Friday, December 21, 2007

Fun with Food

Potato prints! I had not made any potato prints for ages and ages, but was inspired by needing a project for two young boys to whom I teach art. So I broke out the potatoes and the exacto knife and set about making a prototype.

It was fun. Why do I not do this more often? So easy, so necessarily simple, so satisfying.

In a Holiday theme, I cut out a steaming mug (of cocoa I presume) and a snowflake, and printed in red block printing ink. After a few tests, I recalled the big package of white tissue I had recently acquired. Soon a sheet was covered in cheerful red snowflakes and I was determined to hand-make all my wrapping paper for the year!

As it turns out, I had many other things to take up my time, and after a little more fun with potatoes and ink during the boys class, no more printing took place. And so I had one sheet of precious handprinted tissue, which was promptly used and now sorely missed.

Perhaps I will have to make Spring tissue paper!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007


I want to tell you about my soup. I have a deep love for soup, and, at this time of year especially, I would happily live on nothing else. My very favorite, right now at least, is a turkey (or chicken) stock base with milk, and all sorts of yummy additions. The following is not really a recipe, since I always just dump things in, but more of a suggestion. And there are no picures because this soup is hardly photogenic - its one of those ugly, incredibly yummy things. Like... well, I don't know what else. You'll just have to take my word for it, until you try it yourself and discover how very true it is!

Yummy Ugly Soup

- onion, diced
- garlic, chopped
- bit of oil or butter
- turkey/chicken/vegetable stock - I like to make this with my own stock after I cook a chicken or turkey, but a can/jar/box of store-bought broth works just fine as well.
- water
- veggies... I use different kinds of vegetables, but my very favorites are dried. You can buy dried vegetable mixes at some stores, or use your own! Dried corn, carrots and celery are my favs. Alternatively, use fresh or frozen vegetables - again I recommend corn, celery, carrots, and perhaps green beans and sweet pepper
- dry split peas
- dry lentils (I like to use different colors, strictly for aesthetic purposes)
- orzo or other small pasta
- barley
- basil
- oregano
- marjoram
- salt
- pepper
- milk

1. Heat oil and dump in the chopped onion and garlic, brown, and then turn to low heat and let them carmelize. I am a fan of one-pan cooking, so I brown my onions and garlic right in my soup kettle. Alternatively you could use a frying pan. I cook them until the onions are translucent, and then pour in the stock and some water.

2. The things that will take the longest to cook are the peas and beans, so they go in first.

3. Then the dried veggies, because the longer they cook the tastier they get! Or whatever veggies you are using. If fresh, carrots should definitely go early, celery and sweet pepper could wait a bit.

4. Then the barley. Consider washing it before it goes in the pot.

5. Then come the herbs. I like to use large-ish quantities because its fun, but I am sure a more professional cook would say easy does it. Bah!

6. Let this simmer for around 45 minutes to an hour, or until the peas/beans/barley are cooked through.

7. Add the pasta - this only takes a few minutes to cook.

8. Add the milk. You really don't need too much. I add enough to make the broth opaque, and then I add more when reheating.

9. The longer this soup cook the better it gets. My favorite is actually the next day, reheated. Or maybe the day after that... I enjoy it with cheddar cheese and flavoured with soy sauce.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Love Mountains

This is the winning view on my drive to work.

Amazing, right? And it was actually taken a bit ago, so now with all the snow we have been having, I can't wait to see what appears when the clouds part! These are the Adirondacks, visible over Lake Champlain from Vermont.

Today I visited the Vermont mountains - the Green Mountains - for a skiing day. We go to Stowe, which is the big one on Mt. Mansfield, because if we are going to spend the money, we might as well make sure its worth our while! Today was just gorgeous, and after I argued with my boots for a while they settled down and stopped torturing my feet and I enjoyed the runs immensely. Nothing like pitting yourself against Nature at incredible speeds on two little sticks! Wow!

Happy Tuesday to you!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

On snow and gingerbread

Vermont will certainly be having a white Christmas this year! We had an absurd amount of snow in the last 24 hours, well over a foot, possibly more than 2! And it's still coming down! Of course, I won't be enjoying it, as I am headed to the family in Arizona... not much chance of a blizzard there and frankly, I don't mind!

We stayed warm and cozy inside today, making a big batch of gingerbread. Yum.

We used a Martha Stewart recipe, only we couldn't bring ourselves to add a whole teaspoon of ground pepper. I am willing to believe that it is a wonderful addition, I'm just not in that place yet.

A simple powdered sugar frosting, and a few little candies added the final touch.

I also made a batch of incredibly wonderful molasses cookies from a long ago post on this favorite blog. So good. I had to freeze some so I would not "accidentally" eat them all tonight.

I hope wherever you are, the evening is treating you well. Happy Sunday, friends!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007


oh boy, I've been gone so long I'm not even sure I remember how to do this! Thanks for all your advent calendar love, I always enjoyed the calendars, especially the ones with chocolates! I was trying to figure out how to incorporate chocolate treats into this one, but it just didn't seem feasible.

This Holiday season has been fairly unstressful - gifting wise - mainly because I have hardly had time to think about them! I have a horrid habit of deciding to make all my gifts, and the inspiration for exactly what to make usually doesn't appear until, say, a few days before Christmas! This year I have just been so busy, inspiration may have come by, but I probably wasn't at home. I did manage to finish up my holiday ornament swap items, I'll post pictures after they arrive at their destinations. Don't know if anyone form my swap group has made their way to my little blog, but I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise! I have received some lovely ornaments in the mail already, and my "charlie brown" christmas tree is looking positively fancy!

We are expecting another storm, a BIG one this time. I am seriously considering a move to a warm, maybe even tropical, climate. But until then, hot ginger lemonade and plans for monday skiing should suffice.

I hope you are all having a lovely evening!


Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent for you!

I made an online advent calendar especially for you! Each day links to something I found fun or pretty or full of the Holiday Spirit; and something extra special will appear for the Christmas Day link, I just have to figure out what that will be...

We are looking forward to a Very Big Storm around here. Hope you are staying warm!