Monday, April 30, 2012

food coma: vacation to home

We were on a cruise a couple of weeks ago. You know... unlimited food at all hours? Well, we did not too too bad with the eating, and we managed to make 95% of our cruise only using the stairs (we were on deck 11, the buffets and sundecks were 12+, and most of the food and bars and fun stuff were on decks 5/6). I also jogged three mornings (got up to 2 miles, and forgot how much I loved jogging!!), spent 3 hours kayaking, an hour in a pilates class, an hour doing guided yoga on the beach (my lord was that intense and sweaty and BEAUTIFUL) and an hour snorkeling. So I probably only gained 5 lbs instead of the 15 you usually hear about.

One really special evening on the ship, we got a private seating at the Chef's Table, with 7 others, enjoying 9 courses of dishes specially prepared by the executive chef and his staff, as well as a selection of fabulous wines. This meal is only offered once per cruise for an extra fee, and we were shocked it wasn't booked solid (up to 12 can attend). We met some really awesome people and it was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The lighting was dim and I loathe flash photos (aka these will be crappy photos), but here's a sampling of what we enjoyed...

Tomato, Basil, Curry & Lavender Lavosh
Insert Amuse Bouche 'Molecular Gastronome' Spherical Mango, Vodka & Jalapeno Ravioli
It was tasty, I just didn't get a photo!

Ahi Tuna Tartar, Orange Wasabi Glaze, Sesame Crisp

Asparagus Cream, Cauliflower Flan, Crispy Beetroot & Saffron Angel Hair

Short Crust Tartlet, Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Chutney, Basil Oil, Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Insert Granite: Grapefruit and Moscato (frozen slushy thing in a champagne glass)

Pan Seared Sea Bass, Plantain Crusted, Mango-Papaya-Avocado Salsa, Lobster Veloute

Milk-Fed Veal Chop, Anna Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach, Truffle Veal Jus

Cheese: St Andre Triple Creme & Stilton, Honey Comb, Port Wine Infused Figs, Bagel Chips, Pickled Watermelon

Chocolate Log, Spiced Dark Fum Infused Banana, Cocoa Mousse

Dome: Yogurt Mousse, Lychee Raspberry Creme, Hazel Sablee, Lime Vanilla Reduction

Best. Meal. Ever.

Anyway, we got home Sunday morning and I immediately sent Able Bodied Boy out for a massive amount of veggies. I was tired of fish, tired of meat, and tired of not cooking my own food! Some of what I made (sans photos) in the last week...

Eggplant Curry (a nice infusion of spices in a coconut milk sauce, with fried eggplant cooked until not quite mushy) served with brown rice. Not the healthiest thing I made, but I was really craving indian food :)

Cauliflower Stew (a crock pot all day filled with: peppers, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, Worcestershire sauce, and 33rd & Galena spice blend; i was going for the veggie version of sausage and peppers... we added pepper and red pepper flakes and it turned out well!) served with egg noodles

Paneer Saag. OH MY GOD. Let me 'splain.
I made Paneer. Indian Cheese. Honest to goodness fresh cheese. In my home. And it was GOOOOOOD. There will be another post later about fresh cheeses and dairy products. This was my first attempt and damn... not that it was a perfect process, but the ends justified the means and I have learned some things already.
Then I made the Saag (spinach sauce) which is one of my favorites from indian take-out. Again, WOW. I had made this recipe before, but let some of the recipe comments online guide my second attempt. Pretty damn healthy and very damn tasty. That recipe I will share at some point (if you beg me enough... tempted to just keep it all to myself!)
Between the paneer and the saag, I made enough to freeze half for a future meal. Served with brown rice and store-bought naan bread.
I also started my first batch of cordial, with peaches my dad brought me last year and had helped me freeze. We'll see how that goes....

And oat cakes.

And mega burgers for lunch (Black Bean burgers, cheese, avocado, home-roasted red peppers, tomato... it's a Dagwood stack in the end...)

And Able-Bodied Boy made THE BEST SOUP EVER. And I'm the soup lady... his soup was better. We had a ton of Swiss Chard still growing in the garden, so he wanted to use it up. So he found this recipe and we actually cooked. Together. Without fighting. Or blood. We substituted homemade loin bacon for the pancetta and a couple ounces of chunked parmesan for the rind (and I left the skins on the potato). But otherwise we cooked it as ordered and holy crap was it the best soup ever. Did I mention that already?

He also made homemade bread.

And I made pancakes and eggs and bacon so he could have pancake sizzlies (thank you Alannariva, for inspiring me to tell him that and thusly shooting myself in the foot :-P).

Salads. We've also eaten some salads somewhere in there too. But looking at the list, I'm starting to wonder if that was pretty pointless with all the other food we've eaten....

What have you shoved in your pie-hole lately?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl

Sunday, April 29, 2012

sewing and photos

Note the odometer? 122 and it's not even May!

After forgetting to take photos of the last sewing project, I figured I'd make a better effort with the latest one. This was the big-brother project, making 4T garb. With every project, I try to do something new and challenging to improve my skills. For the top, I decided to use bias tape as trim since I couldn't find a nice narrow trim to match the fabric. I've never worked with it, so I thought I'd give that a try. I don't think I did a terrible job, considering I was working on very narrow cuffs (tough enough for me as it is!). And I think I need to understand a little bit more about the point of bias tape. But anyway, here's the set!

And vacation photos for good measure...

 Any exciting adventures for you lately?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the most beautiful sewing you won't get to see

I made garb for a friend approaching her due date, who loves her some Renn Fairs :) Since her and her man got married in garb, and her son pretty much constantly wears some combination of dress up (pirate shirt and tu-tu? skeleton suit and cowboy hat? sure!), I thought they might appreciate a little garb for the wee girl.

I neatly layed out my latest sewing project for photography, right before wrapping them, then wrapping them before actually photographing them. DOH.

All I have to show you is one crappy photo taken of the first item: a black cotton underdress, red linen tabard, and gold/multicolored trim on the collar, hem and elastic belt. Size 6-12 month.

The second was actually my favorite, with blue-blue underdress and brown linen tabard, and blue/pale gold trim (collar, hem and belt). Again, 6-12 month.

The last piece was a simple peasant shirt, my "tester" piece. Probably more of an 18mo size, but it was finished and nice looking, so I tossed it in too :)

Lesson learned. Next time, PHOTOGRAPH. If I see my friends and have a chance to photograph the other pieces, I will!

Other lessons learned: facings are your friend, trim isn't so bad to work with, sewing kids clothes is SO much easier with growth/sizing charts, I have far TOO many pieces of fabric that are too small for baby garb and yet I keep them for something anyway.

Other sewing projects on my list: tunic & pants (size 4T, for big brother to above), fancy yoga mat bag, work dress shirt (based on a favorite that got stained beyond wearable), skirt (from this awesome fabric I found!), a mound of mending, and countless more "garb" projects for myself.

Got any fun crafty things taking over your spare room too?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Sunday, April 8, 2012

canning planning

Sheesh, I guess time has gotten away from me...

Not much new on the home front. I've been working on a sewing project that is finally completed and should be posted soon (completely for showing off :) ), with a thousand more sewing projects planned.  Able-Bodied Boy has already been mowing the lawn and planting seedlings. Looks like beans, peppers, swiss chard, carrots, and beets this year.

We have a list on the fridge of things we'd like to make/preserve this year. Many of these involve dozens of pounds of tomatoes, and yet we are not growing any ourselves until at least next year. Looks like the CSA and neighborhood farm stands will suffice. In any case, our list this year includes hot sauce (although we are not growing hot peppers), ketchup, salsas, strawberry-rhubarb preserves, drying mint, pepper jelly (thanks to my SIL's sister), canned tomatoes (if there are any left in the county after we make salsa and ketchup), and salsa zucchina. A tall order, but Able-Bodied Boy has PROMISED to help with canning this year. Especially for those items he is begging me for (most of them).

Over at Two Frog Home, I read a neat little post about her grandmother's cookbook (The Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, 1953) and the Food Preserver's Creed she found therein. She posted it and I'm hoping she doesn't mind that I share it with you here.

How beautiful is this? How amazing that we have all forgotten these simple principles? To feed our family year-round from the bounty that surrounds us? To take joy in the process, learning and developing the skills necessary to provide safe, nutritious foods?

I would love to be able to can/freeze/dry all the foods we would need for the year during the times in which they are in season, but I know I'm not quite ready for that. I think it was an old post from Sharon over at The Chatelaine's Keys (who has a wealth of knowledge!) that prompted me to starting thinking of food preservation for beginners. The suggestion was to take your top few meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and start there...
Dinners... We already freeze homemade lasagnas, although the ingredients therein are not always seasonal. We buy and freeze lamb seasonally. We freeze batches of cilantro pesto, not seasonally. We freeze some veggies. We put together a tomato/zucchini sauce base. We could/should probably do more for seasonal preservation of dinners, like tomato-based sauces, stored/grown root cellar vegetables,

Lunches/snacks/condiments.... We have (or will have) pickles, salsa, fruit spreads, frozen fruits. We freeze soups (some seasonal, some not). We eat a lot of frozen "burgers" (mostly veggie, salmon, or turkey) and most of those are store bought, but could be seasonally put together and frozen. We can make our own bread/rolls, but don't always. We could make our own mayo as needed, but don't (yet).

Breakfast... We now have the option of freezing blended eggs and greens as fritatta ingredients. We are stocked with smoked breakfast meat for a year. We do breads on occasion, including a wonderful English Muffin recipe (and homemade Hollandaise which IMO tasted like heaven - mostly because I made it from scratch perfectly on my first try). I know how to make homemade butter, buttermilk, and fresh cheeses.
I'm sure I'm missing a few ideas and/or pantry items we already have, but you get the idea. Start with what you eat, and see what you can do to do it for yourself. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is a wonderful book if you're at all interested in learning what it takes to do it full force (she and her family resolved to only eat what they could produce/obtain locally for one year).

I would love to be there, but I'm not. But what is life if not the striving for better...?

What are you striving for these days?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl