Friday, February 26, 2010

Elephant Stew

Elephant Stew

1 medium sized elephant
500 gal. water
12 bushels carrots, diced
52 stalks celery, diced
14 bushels potatos, diced
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
2 hares (rabbits) (optional)

Cut elephant up into bite-sized pieces. This should take you about 1 month so plan ahead for this recipe. Combine diced elephant with veggies in casserole dish of gigantic proportions. Cook at 375F for 4 days. Remove from oven and add garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes more. This will serve 600 guest. If more are expected, you can add the hares. This, of course should be done only as a last resort, since some people object to finding hare in their stew.
Ruby H. Nance, Marietta, GA

My mom found this recipe in a random cookbook I picked up at a garage sale. It cracked us up in the car, so I decided to share it.The cookbook it was in is just a little spiral bound church cookbook. I wish I knew if Ms. Ruby Nance had created this recipe or where she had gotten it. She had to have had a great sense of humor.  I thought everyone else could use a good laugh on how to cook elephant stew.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seeing Spots - Backsplash Project

We have been wanting to do something as a backsplash behind the stove since we moved into the house. AJ and I have talked about using all kinds of different things from tiling it to using stamped metal tiles. We hadn't done anything to tackle this dilemma because we just didn't know what to do. 

Well, in January we painted the kitchen and the kitchenette. I love the color that we painted them. So, that added a new kink in the backsplash dilemma. I didn't want to cover up the blue paint, so we talked about having acrylic sheets cut to put up. But, that was going to cost a little more than we wanted to put into it. So, again, we didn't do anything.

Yesterday I was hunting curtains at Target that I had seen on sale last week. I couldn't find the curtains, but I did find these neat place mats on clearance for $0.48 each. I couldn't believe that price, and I thought they would make a perfect backsplash.


Here is the kitchen with just the blue paint job.

I put the place mats up to check to see how I needed to cut them to accommodate the light switches and the height between the counter top and the cabinets.

I marked out the light switch covers onto the place mats.

Next I took and cut out the holes using a razor knife, a self healing mat, and my quilting straight edge. I also cut off the bottoms.



Once the pieces were cut out and the bottoms were cut off, I used clear adhesive squares and attached them to the wall. I had to cut a couple of extra pieces to fit into the gaps that full pieces wouldn't fit.

I think it came out really well. I like the fact that the blue still comes through and there are bits of extra color. I also like the fact that when they get dirty I can either wipe them off or if they get really gross, I can take them down and wash them.


The bits of color work well with the other colors that I already had in the kitchen. I didn't think I would ever find anything that would match the avocado of our bread box (a great find at a thrift store for $2), but the place mats had some circles that were the same avocado color. I also picked up a valance for the kitchenette that has the pinks and yellows in it.

Overall I think this was a success. It cost a grand total of $6.48 for the place mats and then adhesive squares.

Linked to on: A Spot Place to Land's DIY Day , The Persimmon Perch's Make It Monday, and Today's Creative Blog's Get Your Craft On. Check them out to see some amazing projects!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eat Your Veggies!

Let me start this whole thing with : I am a weird eater. I don't like lots of things because they have odd taste or texture.  But I have happy news:

I think I have potentially added a new veggie to the collection that I will eat -  Zucchini.

I have successfully cooked and eaten two meals with it. This statement is important because I have been in know to cook things that have stuff I don't like in them and then not eat what was just cooked at all. This behavior always confuses people and me.  

This weekend I cooked two meals using the zucchini. One was a "habachi" style Japanese meal. I cooked chicken and then some very finely chopped carrots and zucchini. I even made the yummy white sauce that Japanese places serve. I ate the zucchini the last time we had habachi in a restaurant and it was ok. So, when we decided to cook at home on Saturday night because the restaurant was really full with a long wait time and also more than we had in our envelope for eating out, I decided to try to cook the veggies that normally are part of the meal. It came out really well. I even ate about half the slices without dipping them in the sauce.

Then tonight it was time to make dinner. We had frozen scallops, and I have had this great recipe for scallops and veggie pasta since I was in college. It doesn't use zucchini, but since I had two left from last night I decided to throw them in there. Oh, my it was yummy. 

I still am not sure that I would eat the zucchini raw, or without accompanying items. I am just glad to know that I can cook it and eat it. I am hoping this sticks around because I really need more veggies in my world.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Welcome to the Faire

The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is held for two weekends every year in January and February. I make it a goal to every year. I love going to the faire. It is always a chance to see friends that I don't get to see that often. I miss seeing them, and I can't believe how much my life has changed since I went to my first one in Gainesville back in 2001. Every year is different in ways and every year is the same in a lot of ways.

This year was fun because Courtney had never been to a faire, neither had Chad. It was also fun seeing Jenn and Luke. I can't believe how big he is getting. I loved watching him be fascinated by everything and wanting to experience everything.

Arriving at the Faire.


Rey and Courtney. I have been to several faires with Rey, but it was fun going with Courtney because she was so excited about everything.


Our Chad. This is AJ's best friend. He intentionally has bad pictures taken of him. I have only seen a few where he wasn't making "the Chad face" (our wedding pictures are safe ones :) ) He is a great guy and it was fun to spend a day with him.

The Giant Gate with the welcoming guards. Apparently, they don't get asked "How are you doing?" All that often. They were shocked when we asked them.

Ride an elephant!

The camel wasn't nearly as exciting. He was waiting to have riders. The line for the elephant was really long, but no one wanted to ride the camel.


This is a knitting bowl. I really want one, but I couldn't justify the cost. I have seen them  floating around the internet. We took lots of pictures to see if my dad or AJ's granddad could turn one on the lathe and then cut out the J for the yarn. AJ really liked the one with the cat in the bottom of the bowl. Seeing these pieces make me miss being able to throw pottery. I would love to be able to make these myself.


Apparently, Mickey Mouse was a popular medieval symbol. That or he followed us up to Gainesville.


We love the Birds of Prey tent. They have some amazing birds. The show they put on is also amazing. It makes me really want a white owl or a barn owl.




A Scottish/ Celtic band with some fun music. All the ladies around us were going nuts for the drummer with the long hair. We were just amazed by the bagpipes player. His fingers were moving so fast they were hard to see sometimes.


Luke rocking out to the music.


Luke standing still. This picture wasn't easy to get. He is a very curious and smart two year old. I love seeing him every year. We were looking through old pictures from the faire and seeing him grow up over the last couple of years is neat.

These pictures are from two years ago from this point on. We didn't get to see some of these shows this year, but since most of the stuff never changes it is easy to recycle pictures.


This acrobatic troupe is awesome. I can't fathom how much they practice to be able to do these things. I also can't image how hard the girl's abs are. She can lay flat and then have someone stand on her legs while someone is holding her up by having their feet in her back. Wonder what method she uses to tone them, pilates maybe?


A fire eater.

The joust. I am not the biggest fan of this. Namely, because it is so scripted. I know a lot at the faire is scripted, but this is the one that bugs me the most. Chad went to see this this year, but AJ and I got a snack and just hung out with Jenn, her mom, and Luke.

Me. Sick, but not from this year. Actually, this is the first year in a couple that I wasn't REALLY sick for the faire. This picture is from two years ago, but it is the best one I have of me at the faire. Last year we didn't take pictures because I had just broken my ankle and we didn't take pictures because AJ was helping me around on the crutches. This year I was bundled like an eskimo, because cold and damp make the pain a lot worse.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Envelope Pouch - Whoops Zune Pouch

I found this fun fabric at a thrift store last week. It is actually a napkin, but 100% cotton. I got 10 of them, so I have a lot of fabric to play with. I wanted to make a pouch to hold my  Dave Ramsey envelopes from the clutch/ wallet. I am not using the wallet aspect right now, and it is just something else in my bag. I love the clutch, but it isn't what I need now. So, I was going to make a pouch to hold just the envelopes.

I used fusable interfacing and folded the napkin in half.  Next I cut off the side edge that had been surged.

I folded the sides in and sewed them down to give it a nice finished edge. I also folded the top piece down to create a tucked under flap.

Next I folded up the bottom and made the pouch.I also folded the top down to make the top.

I put the velcro on to the top flap and on the base. I need to go back and sew the velcro down. It didn't stay on the base piece very well, even though it was the industrial strength stuff.

I then dug through my growing collection of vintage buttons (which is currently being kept in this amazing old Samsonite card side toiletry case). I found this great big one. It looked perfect. I sewed it into that top flap that was created earlier. It is stitched behind the piece of velcro so that the stitches wouldn't be visible.

I got it all done. Then I went to stick the envelopes in to it, and well they didn't fit. I had been test fitting them the whole way through, but apparently I made my last seems to big. Oh, well. I had needed a pouch to keep my Zune and headset in because the headset gets lost and tangled in my bag. The Zune fits great and the pouch is big enough to hold the headset, too. The pouch is also thick enough that I am not as worried about the touch screen getting scratched. I have had a problem with that in the past (my old Ipod got a huge gouge in it within the first two weeks that I had it and it really bugged me, and my old Zune got minor scratches in it, too).

I really like this pouch, and I LOVE my Zune HD! I am glad that it didn't work out the way it was supposed to. Sometimes great things work out even when I make the mistakes of too much seam allowance.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To Marmalade or Not to Marmalade?

Main Entry: mar·ma·lade
Pronunciation: \ˈmär-mə-ˌlād\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English marmelat quince conserve, Portuguese marmelada, from marmelo quince, from Latin melimelum, a sweet apple, from Greek melimēlon, from meli honey + mēlon apple. Date: circa 1676
: a clear sweetened jelly in which pieces of fruit and fruit rind are suspended

My parents-in-law have citrus trees in their backyard. The nifty orange I post the other day came from their trees. Combine this with the fact that I got a canning set up for Christmas and we have an interesting situation. Do I really try this or not? Do I wait until I have my parents here to really teach me what I am doing, or do I just go for it and see what happens?

Well, I think everyone can guess what happened, I went for it.

I picked out some pretty oranges and tangerines and washed them.

I had to peel them (and since I don't like the peel in marmalade). This took forever because the recipe I was looking at said to do it by hand, and my hands weren't working real well. When I discovered that I needed 4 cups (and I only had 2) of orange chunks,  I was dismayed. I decided to start cutting them open and peel them with a knife. This went SO SO SO much faster! I did double the amount in about 1/3 of the time.


Then it was time to break out the JUMBO pot! This pot is seriously the biggest pot in a home kitchen I have ever seen. I am so happy we didn't buy the pretty glass-top stove that we wanted when we were buying appliances for the house. Luckily, when we were looking one day, the lady that sold us the stove was a canner. She told us to go with the coil top stove instead, because the weight of the pot of water would crack the stove top.


Side notes:
1. Pardon all the messy kitche - I was warned this was a messy project, but I didn't realize HOW MESSY it really was.
2. I really love the way our blue walls work in the kitchen. At some point I will not have the kitchen a wreck and be able to take pictures of it, maybe I will even get a chance to make the curtains I want. Though, that is a huge project in itself because I have to make the fabric first.

Well, I followed through the whole thing. It took about 4.5 hours, which was way longer than I was expecting. I also wasn't expecting the popping noises that happened within a couple of minutes of pulling the jars out of the boiling water. From what I understand, that is what is supposed to happen. I am also not sure that it is actually going to harden up to make a real "jelly". I was reading in a book I checked out at the library today after I made the marmalade, and the book explained how to check to see if it was at the right point to gel. Needless to say, I didn't do this little test, but I will next time I make jam.


I got 8 full jars out of this batch. I probably could have gotten 9, but I didn't clean enough jars. It would have been a little hard to stop in the middle of the filling process and wash another jar and boil it, so that extra went into a container to be put into the fridge. Though AJ decided that it tasted yummy enough that he just wanted to drink the whole thing when he got home (it hadn't solidified at all at that point).

This morning it looks really good. Some of the jars have solidified some, others are still a little more liquidy - those seem to be the ones with more fruit in them. I didn't do that great of a job of getting a good ratio of fruit to liquid into all the jars, next time I won't just scoop them out with a measuring cup. But, I was scared of the hot liquid - as Alton Brown refers to is "liquid Napalm that taste good".  Hopefully everything worked right, otherwise we are starting this process over again, because it was more fun than I thought it would be.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Sticks and a String

I am trying to teach myself to knit. Hmmm. Let's just say that it isn't going as well as I had hoped. I am normally fairly quick to pick something up, but this isn't going as well. I have all kinds of friends that knit, but did I get one of them to show me? No. I had to decide to tackle this idea on my own.

I have been accumulating knitting needles from random estate sales. Generally, they are thrown into random boxes of sewing stuff. I have a set of round needles, some giant needles, a pair of normal (size 8) needles, and lots and lots of little needles and double points. I had managed to get the hang of straight knitting on the round ones a couple of months ago, but it wasn't totally what I wanted.

So, the next step was to grab two of the double points and try to straight knit. UGH!!! Not exactly a fail, but very close. It took 2.5 hours to accomplish this (with starting over about four times, and adding a couple of more hours).

 Well, I thought maybe the needles were the wrong size for me to be learning on. I found the size 8 needles. I also decided that I wanted to skip to making ribs, easy enough right? Then I worked for about 3 hours. Nothing was working, I was having a hard time with the yarn doing crazy things. I cut out four pieces before I finally got the hang of it.

I will say, I am glad yarn is easy to undo. It isn't like messing up with some of the other things I have tackled, but I will say it is more frustrating. I don't like the fact that I have to get to a certain point to see where I have messed it up.

I finally got it going. I was trying to accomplish a rib pattern. Well, I did, then I didn't flip it right and it came out as a checkerboard. I really liked the way it looked. So, on with that I went.

I was doing fairly well with this piece until I just totally goofed something up that I never really figured what happened. As I was trying to figure it out, I pulled the needle to far out and then I lost a bunch of stitches. Not knowing what I was doing (I did figure out how to save the stitches, but I didn't want to go through the effort).

I started over, again. This time it is going fairly well. I four sections of the checkerboard, then I am switched to straight knitting. I am going to see how this works. The edges are a little wonky, but at least it is a good start for a first piece on real needles.

I will say that when I finally gave it up for the night my joints were fairly mad at me. Hmmm... Not sure what to do about that aspect, but I am going to keep playing with this. I still don't understand how people find it relaxing yet, but maybe with time I will.