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I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.

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It's a secret to everybody


Posted at 13 Jul 2014 12:08:45 PM

I wish I could show you what I'm knitting these days. Rest assured, in my (increasingly spare) spare moments I am working away on a secret project.

Right now I am knitting a lace edging in a glorious green silk singles yarn, and I so wish that I could show it to you.

Even worse? There are two completed shawls in my sewing room - and neither are blocked.

To make it up to you, here is an adorable almost one (!!) year old boy. The culprit behind the dearth of content 'round here.



Changing topics to food, I want to share this with you. I was slightly overzealous at the garden center this spring, and as a result am inundated with cherry tomatoes -- my favorite kind, but believe it or not there really is a limit to how many we can use up in a day. I looked here and there online, and came up with a plan.


Aren't they pretty?


Sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, and into a 200*F oven for 3-4 hours. The flavor was sweet and concentrated.



Packed in oil, to be stored in the fridge 'til eaten on salads, couscous, pasta, you name it. I love sundried tomatoes, and this was a low-cost and low-effort way to preserve my garden's bounty.





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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies


Posted at 12 Oct 2008 03:50:19 PM

I'm trying out this recipe for Pumpkin Cookies today, as it's fall-ish outside and I really wanted an excuse to play with my new Kitchen-Aid Artisan Mixer. They're only halfway through baking, but the verdict from the first batch is that they're absolutely outstanding.

The recipe says it makes 40. I'm at 3 dozen now, and will probably hit 4 before I hit the bottom of the bowl. Good thing too - they are seriously addictive little cookies!

I left the pumpkin seeds out altogether. And - just in case you can't find dried currants, I used a 3/4 cup bag of dried cherries (chopped a bit). I think they've even better!


( Click for the rest )





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Luau Day experiment


Posted at 17 Sep 2008 02:27:31 PM

Five stars to this recipe for Key Lime Bars (or Squares, for those of us not in Minnesota). I made a double-batch last night for Luau Day at work, and from what I may have licked off the spatula, they are amazing. A couple of random annotations, as noted in the original recipe on Martha's site --

* 23 key limes for 2/3 cups juice? Are they looking at them, poking 'em with a stick to get a few drops out, then throwing them away? You've got to be kidding me.
* In any case, it's tough to get key limes in Missouri in September, so I used bottled key lime juice. Each bottle had ~1/2 cup in them, and as a commenter had mentioned that they were a bit over-the-top with the full 2/3 cup called for, I used only 1 full cup for the double batch.
* I -wish- they made springform square pans.
* I also should try to remember that just because my mother has an armful of niftily-shaped spatulas, I do not also have the same resources. Hooray for lifting tiny custardy squares out of a 9x9 with a bread knife?

Original recipe is under the cut --

( Click for the rest )


In other news, we're gearing up for the wedding. I'm SO FAR BEYOND the "I wish it was over" stage, but despite that things are coming together. We've got clothes (well, I do... still no idea what Dan'll be wearing). We have my ring, and his is en route. We have an officiant, we have food, we have guests. It's a party!




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I love potstickers.


Posted at 17 Sep 2008 09:47:52 AM

114.

That's the total number of potstickers that bbqdaffid and I made on Saturday. Phew!

Our recipe was based on Jaden Hair's (SteamyKitchen.com). We used chicken, turkey, bok choy*, green onion and ginger. If we'd remembered bamboo shoots, they would have been in there too. Wrapping them wasn't nearly as hard as I'd anticipated, and the only real 'gotcha' is that the edges of the finished dumplings like to dry out a bit. If we hadn't been making quite so many I doubt they would have been sitting out for very long, though, so YMMV.

A dozen of the first ones were cooked up on the spot and dipped in hoisin. We had to make sure they were edible, right? The verdict was 'darn tasty', so on we labored.

102 dumplings later, and we were out of filling. We froze them overnight, then foodsaver'd them up in packages of 10. We each took half - 50 apiece. I have plans for some of mine, accompanying a beef and asparagus stirfry tomorrow night.




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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Posted at 28 May 2008 09:43:24 AM

I found this recipe on LJ cooking quite some time ago, and have made it in many incarnations since. It tends to be my go-to cookie recipe on the grounds that I can usually be counted upon to have eggs and butter, but almost never milk. The fact that it's damned good doesn't hurt! It's also the reason that despite loathing the stuff in pudding form, I stock at least a couple of boxes of instant pudding mix in my cupboard.

I brought a batch of the double-chocolate variety into work today, and they're disappearing with rapidity. It's enough to make a little baker's heart glow!

(Note: I have no idea who Carol is. The recipe came initially from recipezaar, but the submitter's name is Dawn. I wonder whether she knows.)

Carol's Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant vanilla* pudding mix
1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips**
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a sifter and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugars and dry pudding mix.
4. Beat until smooth and creamy.
5. Beat in eggs and vanilla; gradually sift in flour mixture.
6. Stir in chips (I usually only use about 3/4 of the package).
7. Roll into balls and flatten slightly or drop by teaspoon full on a
non greased cookie sheet.
8. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes (I took mine out at just over 8
minutes).

* Try other flavors of pudding for different variations: chocolate for
double-chocolate chip cookies, etc.

** Use other fillings: dark chocolate mini M&Ms are especially good.

Makes about 4 dozen.





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Buttermilk Lemon Cookies and a finished garden


Posted at 17 Sep 2008 09:47:11 AM

So, fortified with a jack & coke, sour patch kids and the lack of a headache, I present to you the promised post. Only a day late*; not too bad, considering.

The cookies which I mentioned are these:



They are the lemon buttermilk cookies which were mentioned here at Orangette's blog. You know that I'm a sucker for anything involving lemon, so they became my weekend baking. I made the full recipe, figuring that even if it made all 6 dozen I could always foist some off on Timm and Liz, or on the office.... well, it made 7.5 dozen, so I did both with two full tupperware containers left for us!

The original recipe as printed in Gourmet magazine can be found here. The only thing I changed was to double the amount of lemon zest to around 2 tsp (or 3 lemons' worth) as suggested on Orangette.

Skip past the recipe?



Buttermilk Lemon Cookies
INGREDIENTS

For cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

PREPARATION

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter 2 large baking sheets (note: I used silicone-treated parchment paper instead).

Whisk together flour, zest, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until smooth.

Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes per batch. Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks.

Glaze cookies:
Whisk together all glaze ingredients and brush onto tops of warm cookies.

Let stand until cookies are completely cooled and glaze is set.

Cooks' note: Cookies are best the day they're made but can be frozen, wrapped well, up to 1 month.





Also accomplished is the raised garden in the back yard!



More pictures are here; the album should be public.

It's about 2' high on the outside, and is set into the hill. Down the road if we want to build another box on top of it, it should be relatively easy to base one wall on the existing (inside) wall, like we did for the shed-ward now (it's set on top of the retaining wall around the shed). That might do bad things to my sunlight, though, so for now this is more than good!

It has more soil in it now than in the picture, and comes up within about 6 inches of the top. It's a mix of ~3:1 soil to peat moss, which should help hold in the moisture once temperatures hit the 90s this summer. You'd never know it now, though... from the radio this morning we're slated to get 8 days of sporadic rain and thundershowers.

On the plan are heirloom cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers, snap peas up the wire screen in the back, cippolini onions, dwarf carrots, hungarian wax peppers (my favorite), chinese 5-color peppers**, possibly some jalepenos and assorted herbs.

Weather-permitting I'll get the peas and carrots off of my windowsill and actually planted. Keep your fingers crossed that they don't get drowned out, but I don't think they'll survive much longer in the limited environment I've got for them inside anyway.

Probably bowling this evening :) I'm slowly getting less bad at it, which is a comfort! League starts the 19th (of May), and I'd like not to be a complete embarrassment, though Dan assures me I'm not ;-)



* Or two,if you consider that I'm posting the morning after actually writing the post.

**The mystery peppers from Tom Matarese, finally identified thanks to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog!





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Meat 'n' Poatoes night


Posted at 27 Feb 2008 10:29:59 PM

We just finished tonight's dinner, and it was so darn tasty that I wanted to post it :) (Crossposted from LJ Cooking.)

The menu was:

( Click for the rest )


Recipes, such as they are, as follows:

For the steak:
Do whatever you like to do to a steak. I seasoned both sides with kosher salt, fresh-ground or cracked black pepper, and chili powder. Garlic powder wouldn't hurt if you are so inclined (or garlic salt).

Place it on a sheet pan or piece of tin foil, and stick it under the broiler. 4 minutes per side, and you'll have a lovely medium-rare. If you have a grill, I am envious :)

For the veggies:
Cut about 6 medium-sized (3-4 inches long) redskinned potatoes in half.
Peel 2 or 3 carrots, and cut them in thirds.
Trim the ends off of a bunch of fresh asparagus, and cut the remainder into pieces a couple of inches in length
Gently clean and trim, if necessary, a pint container of baby portobello mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
4-6 tbsp unsalted butter (completely optional)
4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (not quite as optional, but adjust amounts to your liking.)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Put the potatoes and carrots in the roasting pan. Sprinkle on about 1/8 tsp chili powder, kosher salt, and fresh-ground black pepper. Place 2 1-tbsp pats of butter on top, drizzle with approximately the same amount of olive oil, and place uncovered in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring at each 10-minute mark to get the lovely butter and oil coating everything nicely.

After about 20 minutes, add the asparagus, whole button mushrooms, more seasonings if you like, garlic and chives. Add the rest of the butter and olive oil (or as much as you care to add) over the top, and stick back in the oven.

Roast for another 30-40 minutes, stirring gently every 10, until the potatoes and carrots are done through.

Some options:
- Leave the mushrooms out of the veggie mixture, and instead of serving this with steak, grill up some whole portobello mushroom caps.
- If you parboil the potatoes and carrots first for about 10 minutes, you can eliminate the extra 20 minutes which they need alone in the oven. This dirties another dish and the timing comes out the same in the end, so I don't personally bother.
- Brussles sprouts would probably be lovely in this as well.

Thank you suzepie for your suggestions re: the steak - they were spot-on. My fiance waved away the bbq sauce, saying "Nah, I don't want to ruin a good steak!" which is about the highest compliment I can get, I figure ;)

Enjoy!




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Apple Streusel Muffins


Posted at 06 Jan 2008 02:45:03 AM

I can't remember the last time I made something so good it required a blog posting. The closest I can think of would be my spicy lemon chicken risotto, and I think I forgot to actually post about that at the time (at least, so a search through my archives has revealed).

I've been craving apple streusel muffins all week. Don't ask me why, since I really wasn't sure that there was such a thing. Nevertheless, a google search revealed what I wanted to know, and this is the result:

Apple Streusel Muffins
Recipe from Diana Rattray at About.com

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 cup shortening
* 1 large egg, slightly beaten
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup chopped tart apples, cored and grated (1 apple, peeled and grated. The core made a nice place to hold on while grating. -ed.)

* Topping:
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or macadamia... -ed.)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

PREPARATION:

Streusel Topping: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, chopped pecans and ground cinnamon.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until fine crumbs form. Combine egg and milk. Add to dry ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to moisten.

Stir in apples. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with crunchy topping. Bake in 375 F. oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 12 muffins (10. -ed.)

The muffins are everything a muffin should be: moist, dense, spicy and filling. The topping is a bit crumbly, but again it's all to the good - one expects streusel to be not quite neat.

I highly recommend that you try this - it was an excellent way to use up an apple, and you won't be sorry you did!




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Penne with artichoke hearts and squash in garlic butter sauce


Posted at 06 Jan 2008 02:45:28 AM

This is a dish that a friend of mine (hi, Frosty!) made up for a communal Sunday dinner he and his wife used to (still do?) host. It was spur of the moment, but absolutely divine. Last night I was feeling a bit homesick, and knew that I had some artichokes and parmesan to use up. Perfect!

Pay no attention to the butter content. It's worth it!

Ingredients for two people:
1/2 zucchini, in thin 1/8" slices
1/2 yellow squash, same
1 freezer package of artichoke hearts - the kind that comes in boxes about the size of a hand.
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced fine
4 tbsp of butter, cut up into tbsp chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, red pepper, nutmeg, parsley
hunk of parmesan cheese
1/2 lb penne pasta

Method:
Get a pot of water boiling for the penne. I didn't start cooking the rest until the water was boiling, as the whole thing takes about as long to cook as the pasta does to boil.

Defrost the artichoke hearts by whatever method you prefer.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Saute the garlic until it's nice and toasty (but not burned!). Add the artichoke hearts and saute for another couple of minutes.
Add the zucchini and squash. Stir it around to get all nice and coated with the garlic butter.
Add in another tbsp of butter and stir it around.
Season with salt, pepper and hot red pepper to taste. Sprinkle on a very little bit of nutmeg, and oh say a tsp of parsley.
Add some more butter. Call your heart surgeon to make a preemptive appointment.
Saute it all until it's soft and delectable but not squishy. Add in the cooked and drained penne pasta.
Add whatever's left of the butter, or more if you feel there's not enough. Ditto on the spices.

Stir it all together into a wonderful garlic & butter-sauced dinner. Grate on parmesan cheese until the urge to sing "On Top of Spaghetti" is unbearable. Sing. Devour :D




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I can has lizard!


Posted at 03 Nov 2007 12:02:13 PM

I have a new job starting on Monday! (Yes, I got the one I was talking about in my previous post. Actually, I had an offer letter (emailed copy thereof) in my inbox by that evening. Guess they wanted me, too!) I'm quite excited, and still pretty optimistic. Wish me luck!

I spent the morning making Pear Honey with BF's dad, and then perusing his grandmother's White House Cook Book, copyright 1884, copyright again 1897. Really, really amazing book... I could have looked through it all day. Things are measured in teaspoons, tablespoons, teacups and coffee cups (totally not kidding, either: "heat best apple cider to boiling and add one teacup sugar per gallon"). I only got about halfway through before it was noon already, and I had to head out to run errands.

So I don't forget - here, have the Pear Honey recipe:

Pear Honey
5 lbs ripe (or overripe) pears, peeled and food milled or diced
10 cups sugar
2 (8 1/4 oz) cans crushed pineapple

Simmer in a large pot until translucent and goopy (technical term). I think we simmered it for about half an hour, perhaps a bit more (I was absorbed in cookbookery at the time). When we canned it, it was thinner than jelly but apparently it sets up more in the jars.

Fill pint jars and can in boiling water for 5 minutes. Makes 7 pints (or really, 6 and half of one for the fridge).

So good.


Also, I can has lizard! Dan brought me home a little lizard friend yesterday. Apparently the li'l guy had been living in a pool cover, and due to the pool being closed, he was now homeless. So, he's living in a big glass tank with lizard-type toys and suchlike, and with any luck he'll do ok :) His tail is blueish violet and the rest of him is striped, which is pretty darned nifty to look at.

I'm tempted to name him Kitten, since I can't have one yet. ;) Well, technically we can, but I honestly don't know where we'd put a litter box. We've used seemingly every available square inch of floor space as it is, so deposit on the apartment or not, I think waiting 'til we're somewhere bigger may be in the cards...

I'm reading the cat mysteries by Rita Mae Brown at the moment... less frivolous than the Cat Who books, but really enjoyable and addicting.

Edit: My little lizard is a Five-lined Skink! It makes me chuckle.