27 July 2008

Lucious (Red) Lentil Soup

This soup was inspired by my mother-in-law. She served a beautiful and delicious-looking red lentil soup the last time I visited. I say delicious-looking because it tasted kind of like water. No, really.  I felt sorry for her because everyone but me was giving her critiques on how she should have done it better, but it's the thought that counts, right? 

Anyway, I decided to make a soup that tasted like hers looked like it should have tasted -- a red lentil soup that is both beautiful and delicious.

Gently fry 1/2 of a big or one small chopped onion and one shredded carrot with a glug of olive oil in a small pot or saucepan, until onion becomes clear and everything starts getting a little carrot-coloured. Add a chopped stalk of celery and stir for another minute or two. Dump in a pile of red lentils about the size of your fist (more, if your fists are tiny, like mine, less if you have those crazy bear-paw hands), add the juice + 1 slice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp herb blend (Italian or Herbs de Province will do), 1/4 tsp tumeric (if I have too much tumeric, my armpits start smelling of it!), 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp curry powder (or 1 tsp of your favourite curry paste), and enough water to almost fill the pot. Stir, add 2 tbsp tomato paste, stir again, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, stir once more, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the red lentils have turned to mush (did I mention you should stir it? don't let the red lentils stick together). Rip up a few fresh basil leaves, stir them in, and serve.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 hungry people.

Kick it up a notch with some chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce!

20 July 2008

9 Truths and One Lie! -- The results!

1. After all these years, I am still in pursuit of the perfect shade of red lipstick.
Lie! I thought I'd getcha by putting the lie in the first one cos I figured everyone would assume the lie was sneaked in the middle somewhere. But 3 of you, NLC_Beads, Lizzie, and Cristina, caught me out. There is no perfect shade of red lipstick for me. Not only do I look ATROCIOUS in red lipstick, I look pretty awful in pretty much EVERY shade of lipstick! (I am still enjoying my search for the perfect lipgloss, however. There are a lot of nice ones out there. Any recommendations?)

2. I received speech therapy as a child.
True! I had a lisp and went to speech class in 4th grade and won a Care Bears bracelet once for not lisping. It took me AGES to figure out what I was doing wrong. I still lisp when I'm excited or angry and certain phrases tongue twist me.
I also did elocution exercises in Drama class and wonder if they are why people tell me I have a funny accent.

3. I couldn't figure out how to roll my tongue until I was almost in high school.
True! My little sister could roll hers when she was a baby and I managed all sorts of weird tongue manipulations trying to figure out how to roll mine. Eventually, I figured it out. Step 2: Figure out how to raise just one eyebrow (I have sort of figured it out, but I'm still rubbish).

4. I LOVE hot sauce and prefer my picante foods to be REALLY hot. The only person who can tolerate more heat than I can is my dad.
True! My dad could out-hot sauce a deep south Texan, but no one else can out-hot sauce me. Unfortunately, being a tiny white girl, not everyone believes me when I place an order saying I'd like my food as hot as humanly possible. Mexicans laughed at me when I ordered my food spicier than they did (well, that's what my Colombian friend said they were laughing about). And I'm pretty sure this guy in a Curry shop in Seattle lost a bet when he served me a delicious and insanely hot curry. 100% Pain is 100% good and I used to have it on bagels every morning. And one time (NLC_Beads remembers this one, she bought the hot sauce), I put so much Dave's Total Insanity hot sauce in my tomato juice one morning, I had intestinal cramps and shat it all out a few minutes later. It tasted good going down, but once it was in my stomach, it felt like I was being poisoned.

5. I hate touching tennis balls!
True! I don't like the way they make my fingers feel. Also, tennis balls are green, not yellow, MARK. ;p

6. I decided to go vegetarian on a whim whilst eavesdropping on two girls in the bathroom.
True! Faye, you're right, there are better reasons to go vegetarian, but that's how it all started (12+ years later, I'm still a veg -- I'm glad I did it, even if it was on a weird whim).
It kind of went like this:
Girl 1: Oh, god! I'm, like, totally a vegetarian because I'm trying to lose weight!
Girl 2: Really?
Me: (Thinking: hmm, vegetarian, think I'll give that a try.)
Later that week, my Diff Eq teacher, Dr. Xu, told us he noticed Americans tended to start sentences off with "Oh, god!" to which their friends would reply, "really?"

7. I appeared on an episode of The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Christina Aguilera.
True! It's the episode with Tatyana Ali as the guest star. Christina is the one holding the microphone, I'm the one with the shiny nose wearing an, erm, Aladdin genie shirt. *sigh* If anyone finds a clip of that, let me know. [Chantel, I think you have a copy on one of those videos I gave you before I left the US.]

8. I only have 27 teeth. I had 29 before my wisdom teeth were pulled.
True! I'm missing one of my bottom middle teeth -- it never existed! I've been x-rayed and everything. And I only ever had 2 top wisdom teeth.

9. My favourite holiday is Halloween. I went trick-or-treating pretty much every year until, some time in college, the people giving out candy started telling me I was too old.
True! One time, I was trick-or-treating with my roommate and a guy reading (I am not kidding) Windows for Dummies told me to get off his porch. I tried to act young and sweet and dumb, and he just said, again, "Get off my porch." Crabby pants.

10. Of course, clowns give me the creeps, but Santa Claus gives me the creeps, too.
True! Even when my dad was dressed up as Santa and I knew it was him, I was still wigging out.

Congratulations again to
NLC_Beads, Lizzie, and Cristina. I decided since I have a large supply of shells and string, all the winners get a necklace! Cristina already stopped by Chateau Crabby to pick up her necklace, NLC_Beads, I have your address, Lizzie, I'll need yours.

24 June 2008

10 Things About Me: Win a FREE Shell Necklace!

My good buddy Skamama had a fun contest over at her blog where she posted 10 things about her, 9 of which were true. I'm going to do the same thing. Your job, dear readers, is to put down your bottle of Blue Nun and try to figure out which statement is a falsehood. Leave your answer in the comments. I'll do a random drawing of those who guess correctly. If no one is correct I'll do a random drawing of everyone in the comments. Good luck! You have until next Sunday (20 July).

The winner will receive a FREE Chlo-made shell necklace, much like the one in the picture. Just a few shells tied to string, but they are genuine shells from the shores of Loch Long handmade by The Crabby Crafter, a genuine inhabitant of Cove, Scotland. Also, nautical stuff is really 'in' this season -- I read that in both Elle and Marie Claire, so it has to be true.
If only one person guesses correctly, I'll also crochet them a hat!

Anyway, here we go:

1. After all these years, I am still in pursuit of the perfect shade of red lipstick.

2. I received speech therapy as a child.

3. I couldn't figure out how to roll my tongue until I was almost in high school.

4. I LOVE hot sauce and prefer my picante foods to be REALLY hot. The only person who can tolerate more heat than I can is my dad.

5. I hate touching tennis balls!

6. I decided to go vegetarian on a whim whilst eavesdropping on two girls in the bathroom.

7. I appeared on an episode of The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Christina Aguilera.

8. I only have 27 teeth. I had 29 before my wisdom teeth were pulled.

9. My favourite holiday is Halloween. I went trick-or-treating pretty much every year until, some time in college, the people giving out candy started telling me I was too old.

10. Of course, clowns give me the creeps, but Santa Claus gives me the creeps, too.

Good luck!!

18 June 2008


Skamama asked me to fill out this meme:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

The summer of 1998 was the year I moved out of my parents' house. I lived in King of Prussia, PA with some other engineers (little known secret, your favourite Crabby Crafter has a BSEE). They all had jobs with Penn-DOT, but since I wasn't a PA resident, I had to fend for myself. I got a job with Pay USA as an administrative assistant and I also worked at the Record Revolution, which was very good for my ego and record collection, but not for my pocketbook. Despite working all those hours and being broke (KoP is an expensive town and all my extra money went to records rather than food), it was the best summer I'd ever had.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
  1. Try to finish knitting my Pixie Hat. Once it's finished, make a wee one for Belly Baby so we can be twins. No one will ever be able to tell us apart.
  2. Write nlc_beads a thank-you myspace message. My favourite mascara, Maybelline Full N Soft in 'Very Black,' has been discontinued in this country and I've spent the past 6 months trying different mascaras and disliking them to varying degrees. Anyway, nlc_beads, who doesn't even wear make-up, sent me a wee package containing 2 tubes of said mascara (!!), one of her gorgeous handmade glass beads, and an ACEO (Art Cards Editions/Originals) by Lisa Luree/Bone*Diva. The card is a Día de los Muertos-style skeleton mom and baby and I love El Día de los Muertos! Thanks nlc_beads!
  3. Go to the Post Office and pick up the package Parcelforce allegedly tried to deliver yesterday, even though I was totally home when they say they attempted to make the delivery.
  4. I suspect I will do a load of laundry -- Belly Baby goes through a lot of diapers.
  5. Watch an episode of Torchwood (I missed series 2 and am catching up).
3. Snacks I enjoy.
  • Bagels with margarine or hummous.
  • Soya yoghurt.
  • Tea and toast.
  • Olives.
  • Triscuits (plain).
  • Maple sugar candy.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire.
  • Travel all over and eat out in vegan-friendly restaurants and leave big tips.
  • Buy an espresso bar, grinder, etc. for my kitchen, so I can make really good coffee drinks.
  • Buy air time on a TV channel and have my own Crabby Crafter television series.
  • Get some custom-made hats that are really outrageous.
  • Buy all my clothes from wee indie designers, etsy people, vintage shops, thrift stores, etc.
  • Get a snooker table and a piano.
  • Volunteer in Africa.
  • Anonymously send money to interesting and nice people.
  • Set money on fire.
  • Throw money into crowds and watch people fight.
  • Make the 'Happy Birthday' song public domain once and for all.
  • Fill a bathtub full of money and get my picture taken in it.
  • Get a bunch of people to teach me a bunch of different languages (notably Mandarin and German).
  • Buy up all of The Beatles songs owned by Michael Jackson and give them back to Paul McCartney.
  • Deck out my kitchen like super-fab and write a vegan cookbook.
  • Hang out in Germany.
  • Hang out in New Zealand.
  • Buy a submarine.

5. Places I have lived.
  • Lakewood, OH
  • Willoughby Hills, OH
  • Grove City, PA
  • King of Prussia, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Cove, Scotland
Is that all?

6. Jobs I've had.
  • Babysitter (I was a rubbish babysitter).
  • Stable girl at the 2-stall horse stables down the street from where my parents live.
  • Computer Help Desk Receptionist.
  • Hotel Housekeeper, Breakfast Room Ambassador, and Front Desk Chick.
  • Plastic Factory Drone.
  • Administrative Assistant.
  • Record Shop Chick.
  • Technical Assistant at a radio station.
  • Electrical Engineer.
  • Helped sell medieval/renaissance clothes at an SCA event in Mississippi..
  • Christmas Decorator and Floral Designer.
  • Graphic & Web Designer.
  • Telemarketer for a scam job. (I quit when I caught on.)
  • Barista.
  • Ebay seller.
  • Crochet Designer.
  • Betting Shop Cashier.
I KNOW I've had more jobs than that...

Are you happy now, Skamama?

31 May 2008

Birth Story -- Caution: Vulgar, Blunt, and Mildly Gory

Birth Story (not for the faint of heart)

Congratulations to jdm13 from livejournal who nailed it with her prediction stats.

Also, good guess, Braxto, who sent me a myspace message saying I would give birth on 30 May and then got the phone call that I'd popped.

5 days late, labour was an uncomplicated 13 hours, he has a decent amount of dark hair, weighed 6 lbs 13 oz, and he has slate blue eyes (which will change to brown or brownie-green soon enough). I swear no one in my family had blue eyes at birth (my mom says my little sister's were, although I totally thought they were black -- then again, I was 5 and that was 26 years ago), maybe it's Mark's anglo blood.

Anyway, labour kicked off at about 10 minutes to 2am (I told you I'd start going before I got a chance to get any sleep). Contractions were 8 minutes apart straight off the bat. After an hour, I phoned the hospital to ask when I should go in, they said to phone once contractions were 5 minutes apart. I thought I'd take a bath, but Mark had taken a shower and there wasn't a lot of hot water and even after 3 teakettles of hot water, the bath wasn't doing much for me and contractions were 5 minutes apart anyway. The hospital said to come on down, so we phoned an ambulance (you can do that in the country here) and by the time we arrived at the hospital (a) I was huffing on a little gas and air, which only took the very edge off contractions, but was great at keeping me focused (b) having contractions every 2-2.5 minutes. It was maybe a quarter to 7am at this point.

I'd been having reservations about giving birth in a hospital, but this was a great place -- my whole labour was midwife-led and no doctors were involved (they were on-hand in case of an emergency, but I only ever saw them in the hallway). The midwives were REALLY respectful of my birth plan and when shifts changed or new girls came in to assist or give other midwives a break, the more particular bits were pointed out (no episiotomy under any circumstances, no injection to help deliver placenta faster). The first thing they did was offer me a bath. My contractions were coming on hard and strong and -- okay, I wussed out on the original plan and took a morphine injection in the ass, okay!? I was shaking and mildly panicking from the strong and fast contractions. Anyway, they monitored the baby's heartbeat and the morphine (not to mention all my contractions throughout the labour) had no effect -- he was going strong.

Here's the thing about morphine -- like gas & air, it doesn't take the pain away at all, but takes the edge off it. I'm not sure it even took the edge off it in my case, but it helped calm me down from mild panic (I wasn't expecting the contractions to come on so hard and fast) to just gimping out over being in labour. Plus, it wore off in a couple hours. My next injection was due at noon and I didn't get one (although I would have taken one if offered). I was fully dilated by then and they had me try out a bunch of positions to get the baby further down the canal. The one I hated the most, left-side, worked the best. Those contractions were really painful and hurt my hips.

Eventually, it was time to push. Yeah, they really don't call it the ring of fire for nothin'. It was scary, but once his head started to poke out and they let me touch it (and that head of hair -- partially-birthed baby heads feel like boiled eggs), I started feeling a little more hopeful (I'd been pushing for a while -- it is exactly like taking a big shit). I was on my hands and knees when the head popped out and the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice so they had me flip over and sit up for the rest of the delivery. But really, once the head is out, it's all downhill. He looked a lot cuter than I thought he would. I'm not saying he's the cutest baby ever, but I've seen some downright scary newborns and I was expecting to have one of those. ;p

While Belly Baby and I did some skin-to-skin contact, the midwife helped deliver the placenta and Bertie took a big poop on me.

Other than that, my nipples are a little sore (the midwives say it's normal as I get used to breastfeeding and that he has a good latch), I have 2 VERY angry haemorrhoids, and a wiggling son who poops a lot.

24 May 2008

Crafty Preggo Post

No recipes in this post, although Mark and I did enjoy a delicious saffron risotto this afternoon.

Newborns don't have very good vision, but they do like high-contrast shapes and patterns. I figure my baby might like something interesting to look at, so I crocheted this for him. It's a little wonky on the upper-left, but he's a newborn and is hardly in a position to critique my handiwork.

It's the first blanket I've ever made! Now that I'm done, I can go into labour. ;p

Based on the patterns for a mobile from sleepingbaby.net.

Originally uploaded by chloe & mark nightingale
Fully pregnant. I'm due tomorrow. Not the most flattering photo, but I figure everyone's looking at my belly and not my face so I don't need to wear make-up today. ;D

23 May 2008

Sundried Tomato and Fresh Basil Risotto

Before we begin, there are 2 things you need to know about risotto: you need the right rice and you have to stir the bujeebus out of it constantly. Okay, I've posted a cheater's version that involves less stirring at the bottom of this post, but you do need the right kind of rice. The rice should be nice and chubby. Typically, you will use an arborio rice, but other risotto rices are vialone nano and carnaroli. But really, unless you are a rice connoisseur, stick to the rice that is labeled 'risotto' and you'll do just fine.

Also, another culinary trick: when using fresh lemon, before you slice, place the lemon on a clean surface (say, your counter or cutting board), whack it really hard with the palm of your hand, and roll it back and forth a few times. This will squish up the lemony innards and make it easier to juice.

If you don't like sundried tomatoes or fresh basil, there are many variations on the traditional risotto, a few of which will be covered at the end of the recipe. As long as you get the gist of how risotto works, you should be able to make your own variations with no trouble.

Vegetable Stock: Boil 1/2-1 chopped onions, 1-2 large carrots, a few stalks of celery (and leaves -- this is a good way to use the leaves and heart of celery if you are the sort who doesn't like to eat them raw), and 1/2-1 tsp of a dried mixed herb blend (such as Italian herbs, herbs de province, generic herb blend, etc.) in 4-ish cups of water for 30-60 minutes. I'm being vague here because stock is ready when it start looking more colourful and rich and the herbs have started to mingle and it smells ready. I'll go over that in a future post about soups and stews.

Note: In this case, you will just be using the broth from the soup so set aside the veg for another project or keep a little broth with the veg, add a little tomato paste, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper to taste, and you have yourself a little tomato and veg stew. Bonus!

Sundried Tomato and Fresh Basil Prep: Chop up a wee handful of sundried tomatoes (I use scissors) and dump them in a small bowl or mug. Cover in boiling water and set aside to soak. Chop 1-2 tbsp (or more if you are really into it) of fresh basil leaves (again, I use scissors for the chopping) and dump them on top of the sundried tomatoes (do not stir, do not drain -- we are using the liquid from this in the rice because it is tasty).

Melt a couple knobs of margarine in the bottom of a pan on the higher end of low or the lower end of medium heat. Add your risotto rice and stir to coat. Add one ladle of vegetable stock (sans vegetables, like I said, we just want the broth) at a time, stirring until the stock is absorbed. This is going to take a while and your arm might get sore. Take a quick break from stirring to squeeze some lemon juice into the rice. Get back to ladling the stock and stirring the rice. The rice mixture should start to look creamy and begin to have a porridge-like consistency. Take a look at a grain of rice from the pan. Is the middle still white? If so, you aren't finished. Ladle, stir, repeat.
When your rice looks like it's almost finished, add the soaked sundried tomato and fresh basil mixture (liquid and all), a couple more knobs of margarine, another couple squeezes of lemon juice, and salt to taste. Stir well.

Portion out into bowls or plates and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

A few notes -- if you don't fancy stirring your arm off, there is a way to cheat. Cook the rice in a little water or stock until it's al dente (there will still be a sliver of white in the middle of the rice grains and they will be 'firm to the bite') and then do the ladle & stirring trick until you're almost finished and follow the rest of the recipe from there.

This is not a low-fat recipe, but my goodness, is it delicious! If you wish to lower the fat content, use less margarine, drizzle with less olive oil, and use a teeny little bit more stock to make it wetter/creamier.

As an alternative to sundried tomato and fresh basil, you may wish to try [lemon zest, onion, and garlic] (add extra lemon juice to this recipe), [mushroom], [saffron and onion], [parsley and lemon zest] (add extra lemon juice to this recipe, too), etc. -- you get the idea.

15 May 2008

Basic Barley Salad & Olive Oil Lecture

Before I begin, I have something to say about extra virgin olive oil. It doesn't matter if it's from Spain or Italy or Greece, but it has to be a first cold press. It has to say first cold press or first cold extraction on the bottle. It has to. Yes, it may be more expensive, but there is a serious difference in flavour. I could tell the difference blindfolded. No, rly. Srsly. There's a faint bitterness to non-first cold presses and the little fruity or peppery nuances are lost.
Now, buy the cheap extra virgin olive oil of you're going to cook with it -- people say not to heat it ever, but a cheap cooked extra virgin olive oil lends more flavour to a dish than a cheap regular old olive oil and the bitterness isn't noticeable once it's cooked.
But if you are going to pour an olive oil over something and not cook it, say, when you're doing a nice drizzle over a risotto or a soup or bread or salad, it has to be a first cold press! Also, keep away from light and heat.

I use this brand called San Leandro that I discovered at Morrison's. A 50 cl/16.9 fl. oz bottle costs less than £4 and it really is delicious.
I had a friend living in Italy with his aunt and uncle who made their own olive oil and posted me a litre and it was AMAZING, but my friend moved to Korea (hi, Eddie!), so I no longer have access to it's amazing peppery deliciousness. When Mark and I visited two of our friends in Spain (Andalusia -- Sevilla to be exact and remind me to post a delicious garbanzo tapa recipe that I ate along the way), even the olive oil in plastic bottles there was amazing. (Coincidentally, or not, the aforementioned San Leandro is Andalusian, too.)

And now on to the recipe.

I've had a serious thing for barley ever since I was a little girl. We sang a song in school about eating oats and barley with your uncle Charlie. My uncle Chuck heard about the song and, amused, showed up with a bag of barley the next time he came to visit.
I love the texture of barley -- it's so chewy. It does take absolutely ages to cook, but I think it's worth it. Plus, barley is a fun word to say. Barley. Barley. Barley!
This is my barley answer to the pasta salad.

Basic Barley Salad

Cook, drain, and rinse barley (a cup or so per serving), mix with finely chopped green olives, celery, and onion (a tbsp or so each per serving). Add lemon juice, cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil (I use equal parts, say a tbsp or so each per serving, but some people prefer 1 part each of lemon juice and cider vinegar to 2 parts olive oil). Salt & pepper to taste. Give it all a big stir, cover, and refrigerate overnight. I know you want to eat it right away, but it tastes so much better after you let all the bits and pieces mingle, trust me. Toss and serve. Eat.

14 May 2008

Crochet Interview

Oh, hey! I've been interviewed by Kiba The Diva as part of her crochet Designer Interview series. Designer! Doesn't that make me sound cool?

So anyway, here is the linky link:

I know some of you are all thinking, speaking of crochet, Chloe, what the heck have you been crocheting lately? Well, I've been crocheting an eye-scorching black & white blanket for the ol' bun in the oven. They say newborns can't see very far or very much and, other than faces, they are all, "hey, check this out!" when they see stimulating black and white patterns. So the blanket will probably not be visually appealing to you, unless you are a newborn, in which case, what are you doing on the internet?!

Marvellous Mashed Potatoes

One year when I was living in Portland, Oregon, a bunch of my friends from college were living in Seattle (we all went to college in Pennsylvania, so it was loads of fun that we all ended up in the Pacific Northwest) and threw a HUGE Thanksgiving party. I brought a Tofurkey and helped with the pies and mashed potatoes. The lovely Laurel is responsible for enlightening me on making mashed potatoes and the ones we made that night were the best we'd ever eaten. Here's my version of that recipe.

Marvellous Mashed Potatoes:

  1. Wash and cut (do not peel) red-skin potatoes, boil in water until soft.
  2. In separate pan, fry finely chopped mushrooms and onions in olive oil -- toss in a tablespoon or two of an Italian herb blend (skip this if you are going to add fresh chives -- my preference -- or any fresh herbs) and some garlic (if you're so inclined).
  3. Drain potatoes (you don't have to drain them completely), mash (you can use a potato masher, but that thanksgiving, we used the beaters from a hand-mixer).
  4. Stir in contents of pan, [soy yogurt, soy sour cream, or unsweetened soymilk -- I prefer it with the soy yogurt], [non-hydrogenated margarine or olive oil -- I prefer olive oil], salt, pepper, and paprika (we used some orange-coloured spice mix with poppy seeds from the Market Spice at Pike Place in Seattle, and of course, I can't remember the name of it, but paprika is a fine substitution when, like me, you don't live in Seattle).
  5. Add chopped fresh chives or chopped fresh herbs (along the lines of basil, oregano, etc.) and give everything one last stir before serving.

12 May 2008

The Good Salad That Should Not Be (Pear Cabbage)

Well, kids, you get a bonus recipe today. Earlier this week, I read a variation of this salad in the book Classic Vegetarian Recipes (Parragon, 1999). Today, I realised we're running low on food, but happened to have everything this salad requires. It is LOADS more delicious than I thought it would be!!

The Good Salad That Should Not Be
  1. Finely shred equal parts red cabbage and carrot.
  2. Make a dressing from 1 part wholegrain mustard, cider vinegar, and red wine, 2 parts extra virgin olive oil, and some chopped fresh chives.
  3. Toss carrot and cabbage with the dressing, top with sliced pear.
  4. Eat, and be shocked at how surprisingly delicious it is!!

Chloe's Magical Marinara

If there's one thing about grocery store spaghetti sauce that bugs me most of all it's that nearly all the brands available contain sugar. Marinara sauce is not a dessert. I do not think the flavours of tomatoes and onions and such are enhanced with sugar. Did I mention I don't think tomato sauces should contain sugar?!
My magical marinara sauce does not contain sugar and, well, I was never humble, it's better than grocery store brands. It's delicious. It's fabulous. I use it as a pizza sauce, too. Would you guys be interested in home-made pizza crust recipes or home-made pasta recipes? Ooh, and flavoured vinegars (that's an easy one).

Before we continue, I should mention I recently purchased a spiral-bound 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking. It's not so much a collection of recipes (although there are over a thousand recipes in the tome) as it is a book of cooking techniques. It describes, in a warm and engaging narrative, individual ingredients, how to store them, how to tell if they are fresh, ways to cook them. It describes cooking processes -- everything from frying to steaming to boiling to baking to canning. It describes different meals, snacks, serving ideas. It gives example menus for different meals and occasions. It has a section on cocktails.

I have read various reviews and they seem to agree that the older editions are better. In fact, there's a rather recent version that took out most of the narrative sections (including the section on canning) and included several bogus recipes, causing such a kerfluffle that a subsequent edition based more on the older editions was released in rather a hurry. Or something like that. In any case, my edition is fab and I got it from the US on ebay for just a couple bucks. There are loads of good old used copies available and they tend to sell for very low. This book is totally worth the investment, even if you live outside the US like me and have to pay extra for shipping.

Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, I'm taking a leaf from that book and I may start writing my recipes out in that style, where the ingredients are in bold face and optional ingredients are in parenthesis. But I'm not going to do that right now. Just a heads-up.

I have recently read that tomatoes are one of the few foods that may be healthier and more nutritious after cooking. It had something to do with the lycopene.

Magical Marinara:
  • Tinned Tomatoes (if they are not chopped, you will need to chop them yourself)
  • Finely-chopped Onion
  • Smooshed and finely chopped clove of garlic (more or less to taste)
  • [Optional: mushroom, zucchini, peppers, etc.]
  • [Optional: tomato paste/concentrate if you want to really up the tomatoey-goodness or if you are in a bit of a hurry and don't want to wait until more of the liquid boils out]
  • Olive Oil (I use an extra-virgin olive oil)
  • Red Wine (a couple glugs -- don't use a sweet wine like concord, but most any red wine will do -- it doesn't have to be a fancy wine since you're cooking the bujeebus out of it and the other strong flavours will cover any nuances in that good vintage) [and/or a glug or two of cider vinegar]
  • Italian Herb Seasoning (tbsp or so) [OR a few generous dashes of dried basil, a dash of oregano, dash marjoram, dash rosemary (finely crushed is best in this case unless you want to add a sprig of fresh rosemary and remove it afterward), bay leaf (remove afterward)]
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • [Optional: fresh basil, to be added at the end, sliced olives (any kind will do), capers, chili peppers or flakes, etc.]

Fry the onions and garlic [and any other veggies] in oil on low until the onions are clear. Stir in everything else (you might not even need the salt) except the optional fresh basil, olives, and/or capers. Simmer for 5-15 minutes or until sauce has thickened (it will look saucy, not soupy) and seasonings have mingled (you can kind of tell when things are done by smelling them -- once the seasonings get a chance to work their way in, they start to smell really good and the whole dish gets a bit more fragrant). [Throw in the olives and/or capers when everything looks almost, but not quite, done.]

Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil at the end if you want -- I like it that way. Garnish with chopped fresh basil (optional, but tasty!).

04 May 2008

Pregnancy Update

I've made a preggo photo set so you can see the progress of my magical expanding belly.

The shirt says, "If my mom calls, I'm not here."

I'm popping out of the bottom of my maternity shirts. I weigh 132 lbs -- as much as my husband (I've gained 34 pounds so far). Week 38 started yesterday. You can really see how much the baby has 'dropped' in this pic!

I think I've had a pretty easy pregnancy so far. I had morning sickness for 5 weeks in the first trimester and issues with my magical expanding ribcage (it felt like my ribs were about to rip apart) until the baby dropped, but I haven't even had backpain or heartburn. Hopefully, my labour will be as easy as my pregnancy has been!

I have everything I need for the baby, now I just need the baby! Babies are a good excuse for crafts -- I made burp cloths out of old towels and crib sheets out of my old sheets. I might crochet some wool soakers (I could post a pattern when I perfect them, too) and sew my own fitted cloth diapers!

Anyway, everybody stay in touch and I will keep you posted on the baby progress. Maybe you can all start nagging me for a new issue of Galvanic Mag after I pop! ;D

29 March 2008

Chantel's Hot German Potato Salad

My little sister made this for me and my husband a long time ago. I didn't even know she could cook before I ate this! This is my own version of her recipe.
  • 3 lbs Potatoes (about 9 medium size)
  • 6 slices of crumbled veggie bacon or a few handfuls of crumbly fake bacon (like the kind you put on salads)
  • a couple glugs of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (I prefer Grade B/Medium Grade)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • dash pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
Clean potatoes and remove eyes and any other unsightly bits. Boil in salted water (1/2 tsp to 1 cup water) for 30-35 minutes or until tender, drain, slice thinly.

While potatoes are a-boilin', fry fake bacon and onion in olive oil until onion is golden brown. Stir in flour, maple syrup, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until bubbling. Remove from heat. Stir in water and vinegar. Heat back to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil & stir for 1 minute. Stir in potato slices carefully. Heat thoroughly, stirring lightly to coat potato slices.

Serve hot!

Welcome to my Crabby Blog!

Okay, everyone settle down. I'm due to pop out a baby in 6 or 7 weeks and thought maybe it'd be nice if I put out a new issue of Galvanic Mag. And then I thought, hey, it sure would be nice if I had a blog to go with it. Then I could post recipes, crafts, anecdotes, and stuff. And keep you all updated as to when the next issue is coming out and you could post funny and/or nice comments in the comments section -- I've received so many funny and/or nice emails from you full of flattery, photos, anecdotes, recipes, and links. Aren't you all swell?
Blah blah blah blah blah! Anyway, welcome to my new blog. I promise my next update will contain a recipe. My husband and I have just moved to the countryside and I actually have counter space in my kitchen. I've been cooking up a storm ever since we moved here, so posting a recipe isn't going to put a strain on my normally slacker tendencies (unlike publishing a new issue of Galvanic Mag).
Also, don't panic. I know you are all thinking, "Crabby's going to have a baby? This will surely turn into a baby blog and I don't give a toss about other people's kids. Le poo-poo!" Have no fear. I promise not to over-do it with the baby stuff, unless I am incorporating it into a recipe or craft.

With lots of love from your favourite crabby crafter.