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Embroidery Projects

November 6, 2013

A while back, I pulled out a tote bag full of embroidery supplies which included a couple of unfinished projects. The tea towel already had a coffee pot and cup on one side, and I added a bundt cake on the other side. I had a stack of plain flour sack towels, and I stitched a champagne bottle and glasses on one of them.


I still have an unfinished 4th of July and Bastille Day towel, which maybe I can finish by next July.

I have a ton of men’s handkerchiefs, which come in handy but aren’t very attractive. They’re a great place to practice and work on small designs, like this cupcake and camping trailer.


Embroidery can get pretty elaborate, but so far I’ve stuck with simple stitches. It’s relaxing and not too expensive – that’s my kind of craft! If you don’t know where to start, there is some helpful how-to information on Sublime Stitching.

Pattern notes:

  • The cupcake and bundt cake patterns came from a pack of iron-on designs I bought from my local craft store.
  • The camping trailer is part of a PDF pattern called Camp Out that I bought from Sublime Stitching. I bought more cute patterns that I haven’t used yet (Winter Wonderland and Krazy Kitchen).
  • The coffee pot and cup are from the Stitch-It Kit, which I bought a long time ago.
  • The champagne bottle and glasses are from Embroidered Effects, an embroidery book that includes iron-on patterns.

What I did on my summer vacation: Savory

September 23, 2012

I didn’t blog over the summer, but I did cook.

I cooked a lot of chickpeas – yes, I said cooked. I buy them dry and cook them in the slow cooker: rinse and pick over 2 cups of dried chickpeas. Add to 6 cups of water in the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. You’ll get about 6 cups of cooked chickpeas. When a recipe calls for 1 can of chickpeas, I use about 1 1/2 cups. Why cook them instead of opening a can? I really think they taste better. I haven’t done the math, but I think it’s got to be cheaper to buy them dried instead of canned. Here’s what they look like before cooking.

I believe that you can freeze cooked chickpeas, but I always end up eating all of them! They’re delicious tossed into a green salad, and of course you can make hummus. If you want to branch out, here are a couple of awesome recipes to try. You don’t need to cook them yourself to make these recipes; if you’d prefer to use canned, go for it.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic made more than one appearance on the table this summer. It’s best when made the night before to give the flavors a chance to develop. Also, despite the title, I served it room temperature instead of warm. Warm cucumbers don’t do it for me, but this salad does. I’ve got tons of parsley in the garden, and need to make this at least one more time before gardening season ends. It’s great plain or on top of greens for lunch, and I served it as a side dish with spanakopita (spinach pie).

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is the well-deserved name of this recipe, which I saw on the tv show Mad Hungry. I used boneless chicken and a 50-50 mix of smoked and sweet paprika. The second time I made it, I cut the amount of salt in half, because I thought that the next-day leftovers tasted really salty. This is one of those things I’ll make over and over; the smoked paprika gives it sort of a barbecue flavor, and the dish reheats well (which is good because it makes a ton).

Moving on from chickpeas, I came across the recipe for Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream in a Splendid Table newsletter. Mexican is always popular at our house, and this mixture of shredded chicken, onions, red bell pepper, and spices is delicious! Note that their estimate of 5 minutes prep time is overly optimistic, at least when I’m the one doing the prepping. I poached the chicken in the slow cooker and then shredded it, but to save time, you could shred some rotisserie chicken. Click the recipe link if you’re not familiar with the Splendid Table; I thoroughly enjoy listening to podcasts of the show.



The Kitchen Reader: Tender at the Bone

May 29, 2010

This month’s selection for The Kitchen Reader is Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, and it was selected by none other than me!  I read Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl’s stories of her days as the New York Times restaurant reviewer, and enjoyed it, so I wanted to read another one of her books.

Tender at the Bone starts when Reichl is a small child and ends when she’s about 30. She states up front that the stories are true but not necessarily factual. Well, if the book is even half true, she’s led quite an interesting life! It’s hard to sum it up and I don’t want to give anything away, but would it pique your interest if I told you that she spent part of her high school years in boarding school in Quebec? That after high school, she was a camp counselor in France? That she later moved to California and bought a house with a group of friends, turning it into a commune? Yes, she did all that and so much more.

Not surprisingly, one of the themes throughout her life is food. She started cooking and appreciating food at an early age, and some of the funniest stories are about her mother’s lack of cooking skills. Not so funny is her mother’s mental illness, which casts a shadow on Reichl and her father throughout her life. Funny stories, serious stories, and recipes sprinkled throughout make this an enjoyable book. She continues her story in Comfort Me with Apples and I can’t wait to see what comes next.


Long weekend in New York City

May 14, 2010

Last weekend, my husband and I went to New York City to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I knew we wouldn’t be able to eat everywhere and everything that I wanted, but we did make a good dent in my list. Lots of photos for you today! Links are at the end of the post.

Magnolia Bakery

I’ve heard a lot about this place, and saw it on the Sex & the City, but I’ll admit I wondered if it was all hype. We got cupcakes; I had chocolate, my husband had vanilla, and they were excellent. No fancy ganache, salted caramel, or cream fillings – just super-delicious cupcakes with frosting. The cupcakes were tender and the frosting was buttery. What else can I say?

Sushi Yasuda

We had a really nice anniversary dinner here. Ordering was a little confusing at first: we were presented with the menu and a separate list of the available fish. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to synch up the list with the menu to make sure what we wanted was available. Then we decided to order fixed price dinners, where you get to pick a number of rolls and pieces of sushi. Well, the server produced another piece of paper for that! It actually was easier, because the choices for the fixed price dinners are limited, so we just filled out the little form and were done.

The fixed-price sushi dinners came with soup or salad, two rolls, and five pieces of sushi. I got the salad with my dinner and it had the most awesome ginger dressing. We also had edamame and sake. Our server was attentive and helpful, and the presentation was beautiful. I’m not a sushi expert, but I thought everything was really delicious.


What better way to top off a sushi dinner than with cheesecake? We shared a piece of raspberry swirl cheesecake from Junior’s. I don’t have a photo of the slice, but do have a shot of their selections. This cheesecake was just creamy enough without being too soft, and had just the right amount of that cream cheese tang. I’m not sure what the crust was made out of, but I didn’t like it. It was easy enough to avoid, though.

Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery is one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants; this was a more affordable option than dining at his other New York City restaurant, Per Se. Bouchon Bakery is in the same building as Per Se, but as you can see, it’s floating in the middle of a mall. You can sit at the tables that you can sort-of see in the photo below, or you can order from the walk-up counter. We sat at a table and had a wonderful lunch. The bread was delicious; even the butter was delicious! I had a salad with chicken (which looks kind of freaky in the photo) and my husband had a sandwich, which came with a side salad. Everything was first-rate. I had my dessert picked out ahead of time and then was too full, so I skipped it. Sad, I know! I got a chocolate chunk cookie to go from the walk-up counter and we enjoyed that later. This was absolutely a worthwhile stop and I’d eat here again.

La Maison du Chocolat

I was at La Maison du Chocolat in Paris a few years ago, so I wanted to stop in at the NYC location. Dollars or Euros, this place is really expensive. I bought two 4-piece boxes and had to use my credit card to pay for them. The mendant in the photo below looked really good, but I wasn’t going to spend quite that much. The chocolate is really delicious, though, and they gave me a sample of a ganache-filled chocolate that was heavenly. Plus, once you step inside, you feel like you’re in Paris.

Economy Candy

When you step inside Economy Candy, you know you’re in New York! It’s packed with candy and packed with people, but oh, so fun. This place has wall to wall candy that brings back a lot of memories. We came out with candy buttons, a bubblegum cigar, candy cigarettes, Red Hots, Nerds, and Tootsie Pop Drops.

Links and notes

Magnolia Bakery

Sushi Yasuda

Here is an article from the New York Times that mentions Sushi Yasuda. You can also look it up on Yelp. Some of the reviews mention the cost; our total bill was well under $100 for two fixed-price sushi dinners, one order of edamame, and two orders of sake. I’m sure you could rack up quite a bill if you ordered differently, but I didn’t think their prices were out of line. I called for a reservation about a week ahead.

Junior’s Thank you Susan for suggesting this!

Bouchon Bakery Thank you Jennifer for this suggestion!

La Maison du Chocolat

Economy Candy

Thank you to my husband, who took 95% of these photos!

PS: We didn’t just eat the whole time; we did a lot of sightseeing too!


Tuesdays with Dorie: Allspice Crumb Muffins

October 13, 2009

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is Allspice Crumb Muffins. These are streusel-topped, lightly spiced muffins which are perfect for a fall day. The recipe was selected by Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table. Kayte does a ton baking and cooking, much of which is quickly consumed by her teenage son and the members of his swim team! My favorite part about her blog is looking at the photos of her family enjoying her food. Thanks Kayte for a great fall muffin!


What I did:

  • I made half of the recipe, and then further divided it to make half with allspice and half with cinnamon (I ended up with three muffins of each spice). My husband wasn’t enthusiastic about allspice, but I wanted to try it because I’ve never baked with it before.
  • To make it a little healthier, I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour in both the topping and the muffins.
  • For another healthier substitution, I replaced half of the butter in the muffin part with yogurt and reduced the butter in the topping.
  • I also used skim milk instead of whole because skim is what I always have in the refrigerator.
  • I baked the muffins in a silicone muffin pan. Some of the bakers had a problem with the topping melting and sliding off of the muffins, so I used the silicone pan because it has deep cups. I don’t usually use that pan, but it worked really well for these. (When I made the Blueberry Crumb Cake Muffins, I used a regular muffin pan and made a huge mess with the streusel.)
The toothpicks are marking the ones that have allspice.

The toothpicks are marking the ones that have allspice

How it went: With my two tiny batches, there was a lot of math involved, as well as a lot of dirty dishes! The only problem I had was that when I incorporated the liquids into the cooled melted butter, it started to solidify. I thought maybe the butter was too cool and was re-solidifying, so I gave it a couple of 5-second blasts in the microwave, but that didn’t help that much, so I whisked it as much as I could and then stirred it into the dry ingredients. Perhaps my other liquids were too cold when I added them to the butter.

How it tasted: My husband really enjoyed his cinnamon muffin. He thought that the topping was the best part, but also said that the bottom part was “not boring.” I tried an allspice muffin the day I baked it and it was good, but I had one the next day and thought it was even better. The spices mellowed out and it just seemed tastier. Although the topping is sweet, it isn’t an over-the-top sweet muffin. I’m sure the wheat flour changed the taste of the muffin, but I like the wheat flavor. It was great with a cup of coffee.

Would I make this again?: Yes, if I don’t have to split it into two different flavors! I like cinnamon, so I’d just make them all with cinnamon, or perhaps I would add allspice to the muffin part (it was very subtle) and cinnamon to the topping. If you’d like the recipe, go to Kayte’s blog or look on page 16 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.


A pretty fall tree in our yard

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