Setting up for the Fashion Show

Skinny Raven is having a winter boot fashion show tomorrow and I got to be on the decorating committee! Here are the tissue paper pompoms I made:

Ashley bought the vintage globe string lights at Target. The pompoms are simple to make and can be found on Martha Stewart’s Web site.

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Homemade Sushi

I’ve really got to start taking photos before I eat the food. I’m just so hungry!

Makes about 2 rolls of sushi plus extra for hand rolls
Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked short grain white rice, cook according to directions
1 TBS seasoned rice vinegar (or rice vinegar plus 1 tsp. sugar)
1/4 pound imitation crab (the kind that’s 80% snow crab so it tastes better and is CHEAP)
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 TBS mayo
2 green onions, finely chopped
3 sheets of nori
Soy sauce
Wasabi (optional)
sushi mat, preferably wrapped twice in plastic wrap

Cook the rice and when it’s done, spread it thin on a foil-lined cookie sheet so it cools faster. Sprinkle the vinegar and mix in with a spoon. When cool to the touch, it’s sushi time!
Shred up the crab and mix it with the mayo.
Place a sheet of nori on the sushi mat so the lines on the nori are horizontal. The nori should be flush against the bottom of the mat. Wet your hands so the rice doesn’t stick like crazy and grab a handful of it. Spread it all over the nori except for the top inch. Don’t need to lay it on thick, but make sure it goes up to all three of the other edges.
If you’d like wasabi in the sushi roll, spread a small line across the lower part of the nori. Place the crab in a line on the bottom third of the nori, (like a joint?) Place avocado up against the crab. Sprinkle green onions on top.
Wet your fingers and run them along the non-rice part of the nori, at the top.
Use your index fingers to secure the filling and your thumbs to pick up the lower edge of the mat and nori. Begin to roll the sushi up. Once it reaches your index fingers, start lifting the mat away from the nori as you continue to roll. When you get all around, roll the sushi back and forth, pressing gently. Remove from mat. Cut into eight pieces using a wet chef’s knife.
Serve with soy sauce. YUM YUM.

Meatballs with red sauce

Most measurements are eyeballed.

Makes 35 meatballs
Ingredients:
Two slices of white bread put through the food processor into coarse crumbs. Soak these in milk for a few minutes and squeeze out milk.
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. porcini powder (optional)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
splash of red wine
salt and pepper
a couple of shakes of pepper flakes (that rhymes!)

Mix all the ingredients with the flat beater of the kitchen aid standing mixer, or just use your hands!

Bake in a casserole dish in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Drain excess fat, top with marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Put back in oven till cheese is melted.

Note: I ran out of wine and bread last night so I used dried bread crumbs and added a splash of milk to the mix plus a little extra Worcestershire sauce.

Marinara Sauce
Ingredients:
1 TBS olive oil (a couple of quick glubs in the pot)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can large can crushed tomatoes (24 oz?)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
red pepper flakes or one dried red hot pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp tomato paste

I open the can and put all the ingredients minus the garlic and oil in the can. That way I can dump everything in at once when it’s ready.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium/high heat. Toss in garlic and cook till lightly browned. Add all the other ingredients and simmer till meatballs are ready.

Cream of Porcini Mushroom Soup

Serves about 5
Ingredients:
2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
6 oz. fresh button mushrooms
6 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon porcini powder (optional; found at specialty spice shops)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
liberal amount of freshly ground pepper
1 cup half and half
3 tablespoons fresh italian parsley, chopped

In a small saucepan, add the dried mushrooms and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn heat to med/low and simmer 20 minutes. Blend with a hand blender or transfer to a blender.
Remove the stems from the fresh mushrooms and give them about 6 pulses in a food processor (till well chopped). Slice the caps.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the caps and stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the mushrooms’ liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
Add the wine and scrape up the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and add the porcini/stock mixture, the porcini powder, the thyme, salt and pepper. Let simmer on med/low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the half and half and the parsley and let simmer 10 minutes.
Serve with warm crusty bread.

Baked brie with pistachios, honey and apples

Ingredients:

1/4 wedge of brie
small handful of shelled pistachios, crushed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
honey
apple slices
crackers
Directions:
Drizzle some honey on the brie and sprinkle pistachios on top. Place in toaster oven and bake at 350 till brie is soft and oozy. 10 minutes or so?
Drizzle a little more honey on top and serve with apple slices and crackers.

OMG I actually crocheted something

I’ve always been a knitter and I never liked the look of crocheted items. It makes me think of grandmas, macrame and avocado-colored appliances. I feel like a person either learns to knit or crochet and rarely does she cross the line to the other side. I consider crochet the dark side. It’s like skiing and snowboarding. I grew up skiing and I never could get used to my legs being attached to one giant ski.
But I decided I should learn how to crochet in case I ever find myself stranded in some nursing home with a hank of Red Heart craft yarn and only one hook.
Also, if ever I should create a blanket from yarn, it would have to be crocheted. The idea of knitting a blanket — row after repetitive row — makes me gag a little. At least with crocheting you can make dozens of individual squares in a matter of minutes and then stitch them together like a quilt and voila — a blanket for cold people to enjoy on the couch.
What a stupid, stupid idea. After selecting a somewhat complicated granny square pattern (I believe it’s called the vampire fang square) I set off creating my ideal blanket. After about 35 squares I realized that not only to I have to weave in the 10 loose yarn ends of every square, I’d also have to block each square and then stitch them all together and then crochet a border around the whole thing. GOD, what a nightmare.
So I shelved the idea. Six months later I came across a huge crochet hook in my stash of yarn. Huge hook calls for huge yarn. Huge yarn makes bigger squares. I tossed the whole vampire square project and started on a simple granny square blanket, but this time with HUGE yarn. I ended up with giant squares. Eureka! All I have to do is make 9-12 squares now and it will be the size of the blanket I originally wanted to make.
I’ve made 6.5. I can’t get myself to make any more.
So on to today’s project — a granny stitch hat.
It took three tries, but I used some scrap yarn and came up with this:

I honestly couldn’t imagine how the series of stitches I was creating would turn into a hat. It was like magic. Reading crochet patterns totally sucks. It’s like reading bass clef. I know what the terms mean if I really think hard about it.

Granny Beanie
Ingredients:
Worsted weight yarn (1/2 a skein?)
Size J crochet hook
darning needle

Stitches Used: Double Crochet (dc), Single Crochet (sc), Chain (ch), Slip St (sl st)
Pattern
Ch 4, join with sl st to form ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc now and throughout), 2 dc inside ring, ch 1, (3 dc in ring, ch 1) 3 times, join to third ch of beg ch 3. (12 dc, 4 ch 1 spaces)
Rnd 2: Sl st in next dc, Ch 3, 2 dc in same stitch, ch 1, (3 dc in next ch 1 sp, ch 1, skip next dc, 3 dc in next dc, ch 1) around, 3 dc in last ch 1 sp, ch 1, join to third ch of beg ch 3. (24 dc, 8 ch 1 spaces)
Rnd 3: Repeat rnd 2. (48 dc, 16 ch 1 spaces)
Rnd 4: Sl st in each of the next 2 dc and in next ch sp, ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 1, (3 dc in next ch sp, ch 1) around, join to third ch of beg ch 3.
Rnd 5 onward: Repeat rnd 4 over and over until it’s the right depth for you
Final Row: Ch1, SC into every stitch. Sl st into first ch of row and weave in all ends with a darning needle.
Now all I need is to learn to crochet a flower. Oh yeah! That’s the real reason I taught myself to crochet. I wanted a flower on a knitted hat. I still haven’t learned to do it, but maybe now that I’m more familiar with crocheting I can figure it out.
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