Category Archives: DIY & Food

How to Grow Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

How to Grow Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

The view from the dining room. How I loved that walled garden! Some of my neighbors didn't know it existed.

The most useful thing I ever read on Buzzfeed was a post on growing vegetables from scraps. While most of the photos and instructions were filched from gardening websites, the post did introduce me to this amusing subset of gardening.

I once had a beautiful little garden in Manila. Since the Philippines is volcanic in origin,  the soil there is rich with nutrients. Making something sprout is as easy as throwing some seeds on the ground. My pocket garden, however, was initially a struggle to create, as our townhouse had drainage issues and too much shade. It took research and a lot of trial and error before I found the right water-loving plants best for the space. I enjoyed that garden with a fierce love, and I said good-bye to it reluctantly.

Nowadays, vegetable recycling and container gardening brings me the same satisfaction, albeit on a smaller scale. Unlike my old garden, which was planned solely for adornment, vegetable gardening is utilitarian. It’s always amazing to see a new stalk shoot up. But most of these plants aren’t pretty and I derive more satisfaction from seeing my experiments end up on my kitchen table.

 

Celery, Bok Choy, and Lettuce

Leafy greens like celery, bok choy, and lettuce have identical instructions for reuse.

  1. Chop off the butt end of your vegetable. Give it around one to two inches of stalk. Don’t worry if the vegetable butt doesn’t seem to have any roots.

    Yes, I used a child's Spidey bowl for soaking the celery.

  2. Find a nice shallow bowl and fill it halfway with fresh water. Plop your vegetable butt into the container. Place the bowl in a nice, sunny part of your kitchen where you can see it, but keep it out of reach of pets and children.
  3. Check on your vegetable butt everyday (or every other day), making sure to change the water if it gets slimy or gross. New leaves should sprout from the center of the vegetable butt and slowly grow as the days pass. Growth is affected by the time of year and the warmth of the room, so have patience. Sometimes it takes a week before new leaves begin to show.
  4. Once the new leaves begin to sprout around a sturdy new stalk, it’s time to plant the vegetable in some soil. I usually plant vegetables that have gained two or three inches in height from the vegetable butt.

    My celery right after initial potting.

  5. As the plant gets bigger and more robust, it’s possible to harvest some leaves without uprooting the entire plant. With a pair of scissors, just cut off the leaves you need for cooking or for garnishes. The biggest leaves usually droop away from the center and I use those leaves first.
  6. Once you have done this too many times, however, the vegetable will lose some of its flavor. Often it will taste more bitter. When this happens, it’s time to “retire” the vegetable from active kitchen duty and just let it live peacefully in a corner of your garden.

With my own experiments, I found that while celery, bok choy, and lettuce are the easiest to grow. Among the vegetables that grow back in this manner, they also tend to be temperamental with sudden changes in the weather. Try to soak two or three vegetable butts at a time, so if only one plant survives to harvest, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Garlic 

Garlic sprouts fast but re-growing an entire garlic bulb takes a long time.

  1. Garlic after a few days of soaking.

    While cooking, go through your garlic bulbs and identify the cloves that are already spouting. Separate cloves into two piles—cloves that can be cooked and cloves that should be recycled. Any garlic glove that has random root growth or any tiny green bits peeking out from the top shouldn’t be cooked (the green bits are very bitter). Set these sprouting ones aside for soaking and planting.

  2. Find a nice, shallow bowl. A ramekin can be used, too. Fill the container with your peeled garlic pieces. With the root ends of the garlic facing down, fill the container with a small quantity of water—try not to drown the garlic. Set this aside on a window sill or counter top, again out of reach of pets and children.
  3. Check on your garlic occasionally for growth. The roots tend to grow very fast. A stalk of green should appear on the top of the garlic glove in a few days’ time. If the water runs low, don’t forget to add more.
  4. When the garlic sprout has reached six inches or more, and the roots are perhaps half an inch long, it’s time to plant the individual garlic cloves in separate pots. This may seem like overkill but they grow very fast. I first tried planting garlic with a ratio of four cloves to a big pot. A few months later it was a repotting nightmare—all the roots got tangled with each other and I spent half an hour combing through all the roots gently! Not fun. Save yourself the trouble and plant each little garlic sprout in a medium-sized pot (anything from six or ten inches in diameter would do.)
  5. Four garlic plants to a single pot—not a good idea.

    After a couple of months of regular watering and care, your garlic plant will suddenly dry up and look like it’s dying. It’s not dying, really, it’s just time to harvest! This is the moment you have waited for. Carefully shift through the soil to expose the top of the plant. When uprooting the garlic, take care not to rip out the roots.

  6. Brush off the excess dirt and hang to dry. When the papery skins of your garlic cloves are dry and slightly crumbly, your garlic is now ready to use.

I just harvested my first crop of garlic last weekend and I’m astonished at how small and fragrant the bulbs are. I had recycled ordinary garlic scraps and they came out great. My garlic is half the size and is twice as pungent than grocery store garlic!

Some More Gardening Tips  

  1. My bok choy enjoyed a long, healthy run as the star of my container garden.

    It’s good to use a mix of soil for your pot—I usually mix backyard soil with some organic soil purchased at my local hardware store. I buy the stuff that’s recommended for vegetable or container gardening. Sometimes I throw in a few pinches of nitrogen pellets (usually labeled as slow release fertilizer) into the mix, too.

  2. Make sure your pot has good drainage before putting your new plants in them. I usually use plastic pots that come with pre-cut drainage holes; if the ones you buy don’t have any holes, you must find a way to puncture them or you will risk drowning your plant’s roots with too much water. For this reason, I prefer plastic pots over clay—it’s easier to make holes in plastic. Also, when the plant needs repotting, I find it easier to pull out a plant from a plastic pot than a clay one.
  3. Once potted, don’t overwater your plants. Sometimes the soil can seem bone-dry on top but the soil at the bottom of the pot is wetter than mud. If you feel uncertain about how much water your vegetable needs, look up each plant individually on professional gardening sites. My tomato plant, for instance, liked watering only once a week; it died when it got more, even when the weather got warm. My lettuce, bok choy, and garlic, however, are always thirsty and love a bit of water every other day in the summer.
  4. Repotting is a good habit. I usually repot all my plants every three to four months, to loosen the soil and to make sure the roots have more space to grow. Some vegetables, like bok choy, however, don’t like being repotted, and usually “bolt” or start growing flowers out of stress. Bok choy flowers are supposed to be edible but I like their leaves better. Despite their similarity to bok choy, my lettuce and celery didn’t mind being transferred to larger containers. Plants can be moody, too.

 

Since this post is incredibly long, I will save my potato and apricot stories for next time. I know this DIY project is not unique or ground-breaking but I still enjoyed discovering the quirks of each plant. I hope this inspires you to do the same.

 

DIY: The Return of my Lucky Necklace

DIY: The Return of my Lucky Necklace

Repairs all complete!

My lucky necklace started as a happy accident. When I first made it, I wasn’t sure if it really “worked,” since it was made up of odds and ends. Some people raised an eyebrow at its eye-catching composition. But I wore it often and got enough compliments to realize it probably reflected my personality. It’s meant to be a conversational starter.

Each bead in the strand has its own history. Most of the beads are remainders from bracelets and earrings I made for my best friends, some come from gifts I have received in turn that have fallen apart from overuse. The beads range from natural to synthetic. There’s mother of pearl, rose quartz, and Murano glass beads in there, apart from stone, jadeite, and Swarovski crystals.

When I moved from Manila to Oakland, upon arrival I couldn’t find my necklace anywhere—not in my shipped boxes, my laptop bag, or my purse! I immediately thought I accidentally left it behind at the hotel where I decamped for a week. Selling the house and moving was so crazy that the morning before my flight, I was still sorting and dumping stuff into my luggage. The hotel even tried to turn me out early from my room!

In the midst of this confusion, it’s no wonder why the necklace went astray. The loss saddened me. I couldn’t just make up a new necklace with the same concept because the beads were significant to me.

So you can imagine how overjoyed I was when I finally found the necklace again, almost three years later, at the bottom of a bag full of yarn. How it got there, I have no idea. The Minutemen must have put it there.

When I found it again, the necklace wasn’t in stellar condition. The wiring looked rusty and the clasp needed replacement. It annoyed me, too, that one side had too many small beads. It was time to remix this necklace again!

 

A blurry "before" photo. See all the smaller beads on the top left.

So this is what I did:

I studied my stash of beads and whatnot and selected a handful of beads I wanted to include in my necklace. I also selected some more items:

  • a handful of small Swarovski crystals to replace some dull plastic ones
  • bead wire
  • one lobster clasp
  • two jump rings
  • jewelry pliers and nipper
  • bead tray

 

  1. I cut off the old clasp and carefully removed each bead from the old string, arranging the beads in its original order on my bead tray. At this point I also cleaned some of them with a soft cloth.
  2. After replacing all the small plastic crystals for real ones, my mind turned to composition. I moved beads from one side of the necklace to the other, trying to create a better sense of balance in terms of color and size. For instance, I put the two rectangular stones (brown and green) at opposite sides of each other.
  3. Once I was satisfied with my bead arrangement (for most part, I alternated crystals with larger beads) cut off a length of bead wire. Using a stopper bead on one end, I strung the beads.
  4. It may be unconventional but instead of using a crimp at the end of the wire length, I used my pliers to form a loop and wrapped the wire ends neatly. I repeated this on the other side.
  5. Then I attached the jump rings and the clasp.

 

Necklace re-stringing in progress.

The concept behind this necklace is simple. Maybe there are tons of other people who have created something similar. It’s a great way to use up orphan beads in your collection to create something unique. To make your own, here are some suggestions:

  • Use only beads that are meaningful and beautiful to you. If you don’t, you’re going to end up with a necklace that you will never wear.
  • Don’t over-think the colors: size is more important.
  • The Swarovski crystals you use shouldn’t overwhelm the “showcase” beads but they should capture the light well. If the lack of uniformity bothers your aesthetic, you can stick to crystals of one shape and hue.

 

DIY: How to Make Beaded Shoe Clips

DIY: How to Make Beaded Shoe Clips

Do you feel like crafting today?

I love beading and jewelry-making. My fascination with baubles can be traced to my  grandmother, who once gave me the grand tour of her filing cabinet. It was an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that took up part of her bedroom and looked singularly out of place there. Anyway, her filing cabinet turned out to be overflowing with boxes of brooches, rings, and bracelets. She had stringed pearls for women, cufflinks for men, and even loose diamonds! We spent an entire afternoon going through her treasures—I believe she was very bored that day.

To my knowledge, I was the only granddaughter she allowed to poke around her stuff.  Alas, when she passed away I inherited nothing but a single gold necklace, a pair of cameo earrings, and a ton of old photos. She did, however, instill in me a wonder for pretty, sparkly things.

The prerequisite "before" photo

Despite my fascination with jewelry I don’t wear a lot of it, especially while commuting. My first job as an editorial assistant had me traveling through some rough neighborhoods in Manila. When there are a lot of pickpockets and snatchers on the prowl, a woman gets used to wearing the simplest accessories. Even now, I cannot get into the habit of wearing any jewelry that can be yanked away by any crazy person loitering around the BART stations.

The urge to repair my favorite pair of ballet shoes, though, overcame my usual love of simplicity. My feet love this particular pair of Naturalizers so it really pissed me off when the chain-link appliqué kept on falling off despite all efforts to superglue it back.

So this is what I did:

Rip them! Rip them! (step two)

 

1. I took a good look at my ballet flats and my stash of beads and what-not. After some thinking, I selected the following materials:

  • two double-drilled oval plastic beads (Bought for fifty pesos from Carolina’s! The cultural equivalent would be a half a dollar from Michael’s)
  • a handful of gold cylinder seed beads, recycled from an old necklace
  • a handful of assorted cylinder seed beads, recycled from an old friendship bracelet
  • bead wire (what I have on hand is Sweet Pea 24-gauge bead wire)
  • one perforated plate finding, one-inch in diameter

 

Some times it's a hassle to stop working just to take photos! Here, I'm in the middle of step three.

In terms of equipment, I also brought out:

  • my different pairs of pliers
  • a ripper from my sewing kit
  • superglue

2. With pliers and a ripper from my sewing kit, I removed all trace of the original chain decor. I took care not to damage the shoe tops. You can see the outline of the stitch holes on the left shoe.

3. Loosely following a pattern for a brooch in an old Japanese magazine, I threaded ten to twelve gold seed beads on the bead wire. (By the by, Japanese craft magazines are awesome! You don’t even need to read the language to follow the instructions). I looped the threaded beads, back to front, to form a petal shape and fastened it to the perforated plate finding. For the next petal I used the cylinder seed beads of mixed colors. I alternated colors until I completed one row of “petals.”

4. For the second row, I threaded twelve to fifteen beads, and adjusted each petal to make sure they would cover, as much as possible, the original stitching on the shoe tops.

I constantly checked to see if the first row of "petals" covered up the old stitch holes. (step three)

5. Once the perforated finding was sufficiently covered with beads, I attached the large plastic bead with the remaining bead wire and secured it in the back. I attached each “shoe clip” to the top of each shoe with superglue. I let it dry for a day before wearing the pair.

 

I’m not sure if it’s right to call these shoe clips since they are now permanently affixed to my ballet flats. The principle, though, is the same, and if I had shoe clip attachments on hand I might have used them. (When I’m in “crafting mode” I really hate to stop and go to a store. It breaks up my momentum.)

Whatever these things should be called, they haven’t fallen off my flats since I attached them. It’s a ridiculously simple thing but I’m  happy to be able to use my favorite shoes again. My grandmother would probably not approve—she’d insist on beads and sequins all over—but I’m really content to wear discreet homemade bling.

 

 

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

Turning cream and leftover cake...

Making homemade ice cream is an exercise in patience. The method isn’t labor-intensive—I do not spend the entire three days slaving away—but it does require a lot of rest between steps.

Let’s take a look at the process.

Day One: Prep Work 

On the first day, I bring out my trusty old ice cream machine. I think I have the most well-traveled Cuisinart since I bought it in Chicago around eight years ago. I brought it to Manila with me and it returned to the United States when I moved back permanently. The machine has more travel miles on it than most people!

Some people may think it’s crazy I haven’t gone for an upgrade but it seems like such a waste when I have two canisters for it. If I had a spare freezer I could probably make a batch of ice cream every other day.

Anyway, I digress.

Most ice cream machines for home use need completely chilled canisters to work. So day one involves making sure your canister is completely clean and dry, and finding space in your freezer so that it can completely chill out. I prefer to let it sit in a freezer for twenty-four hours.

 

Ice Cream Base

...into a delectable new dessert. It's worth the effort.

1 cup milk (whatever you have on hand is fine)

1 cup cream

3/4 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a clean pot, over a medium flame, bring the milk, cream, and sugar to a boil. Stir occasionally.

While waiting, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, add some of this to the egg yolks. Whisk this well to bring up the temperature of the egg yolks. (If you skip this step, you will have a lot of curdled egg in there.) When it is well-combined, add all of this back to the rest of the milk mixture. This should thicken fairly quickly. It takes around thirty seconds.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain the cooked ice cream base and then let it cool before refrigerating. Let it rest for around several hours—or twenty-four hours—before using.

(Since you now have four egg whites to deal with, I can only suggest making meringue cookies or a nice egg white-only omelette. Please don’t throw it down the drain.)

 

Day Two: Churning

Now that your canister is completely chilled, you can start churning. Find a cool place in your kitchen—do not churn right next to a hot stove—and pour the ice cream base into the canister. Plug in your ice cream maker and churn the mixture from thirty minutes to an hour.

A working relic!

If you stop with the ice cream base, you will get plain vanilla ice cream. While vanilla ice cream is an indispensable companion to floats, pies, and cake, unless you want to go all out with vanilla beans, it seems like a waste of effort. This is the time to improvise with your ice cream flavors.

Usually I throw in whatever is on hand: fruit, chopped chocolate bars, coffee, brownies, even crumbled madeleine cookies. For fruit like bananas and strawberries, I usually make a purée with some sugar thrown in—perhaps 1/4 cup. If I want to get a homogenous color instead of layers of swirl, I add the fruit purées and the chocolate at the thirty-minute mark. Just remember that larger pieces of cake or brownies may be crushed if added too soon—these should be added ten to fifteen minutes before shutting off the ice cream machine.

I haven’t experimented enough with alcohol in my ice cream but just bear in mind that it lowers the freezing point of the cream. Too much fruit purée, too, will result in a sorbet-like texture. While sorbets and traditional ices are awesome, they may not be what you want to eat. Also, bear in mind that without a commercial stabilizer, your ice cream will not look exactly like store-bought ice cream.

Again, I digress.

After your cream is beautifully churned, transfer it to a freezer-safe plastic container. To ensure the least amount of crystals destroying your work, press a layer of plastic cling-wrap to the surface of the churned cream. This will prevent freezer burn. Cover and freeze overnight to get a firm, wholly frozen product.

 

Day Three: Eating

Maybe some people don’t consider eating part of the ice cream-making ritual but I do! Upon waking up in the morning, the first thing I do is to check on my ice cream. I may not sample some right after breakfast but just knowing that it’s ready can brighten my whole day. If you get into the habit of making this recipe, then it will brighten yours, too.

 

 

Mojo Potatoes

Mojo Potatoes

I need to make them again soon.

Since I moved to Oakland, I’ve had to give up so many edibles I love that I simply can’t find: perfectly ripened yellow mangoes, crisp Chinese honey pears, pork siopao with pillowy white buns, fresh lumpia with real ubod and not sleazy bean sprouts, halo-halo from Razon’s, gooey Thai palm sugar… ugh. It’s frustrating that so many of my favorite foods and ingredients are out of reach!

A few days ago I realized I missed mojo potatoes, too. It’s such a ridiculous thing to miss, but I do miss it. I used to live fifteen minutes away from a Shakey’s. Every time I was too lazy to cook or it was too hot to walk to any of the nearby cafés on East Capitol Drive, I’d order Shakey’s takeout.

Say what you will about their pizza (and fast food pizza in general), but having a Shakey’s nearby was awesome. As far as I’m concerned, their pizza was an accompaniment to the potatoes, and not the other way around.

In any case, mojo potatoes seemed to be the easiest item to cross off my list of unattainable food. This week, I took a look at a couple of mojo potato recipes online. While some of them had interesting techniques, they didn’t seem to fit right. So this is what I came up with on first try.

 

My Homemade Mojo Potatoes

 

garlic salt

paprika

pepper

all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 to 3 large russet potatoes

corn or vegetable oil

 

In a large and roomy pot, heat at least four to five inches of cooking oil. While waiting for this to warm up, prepare your ingredients.

In a bowl, combine around one teaspoon of garlic salt, one teaspoon of paprika, and around 1/2 teaspoon of pepper with around 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Set this aside for the moment, too.

Wash and scrub the potatoes well. Remove any eyes or unsightly blemishes from the skin but do not peel all of it off. Slice into 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds. Pat dry with clean kitchen towels to absorb any excess moisture.

When the oil is ready, dunk your potato slices into the beaten eggs. Shake off any excess egg and dredge the potatoes in your flour mixture. Try to get an even coating on both sides.

Deep fry the potato slices in batches, as not to overcrowd the pot, for around five minutes or until they turn golden brown. Remove the fried pieces and drain on clean paper towelling before serving.

 

Maybe because it’s been almost two years since I’ve had any mojo potatoes, but these tasted like home to me. I think I got the texture right. Mojo potatoes seem like they are baked but they aren’t—they don’t have a crispy exterior and the insides are soft. My family enjoyed this effort—my nephews gobbled those taters up faster than I made them.

I regret not doing any exact measuring, but that’s how home cooking can be sometimes—I’m perennially shooting from the hip.

An Adventure Time Halloween

An Adventure Time Halloween

Yet another incredibly late post. I would like to point out that 1) we are usually not a cosplaying family, 2) please ignore my non-canon shoes, and 3) I really wanted to make a demonic wishing eye for my penguin.

You can check out two more Marceline photos at my sister’s blog. That fake bass is pretty sweet. She made it so well it’s still intact. It can probably do some real damage if anyone used it as a weapon!

Here's my sister as Marceline with her homemade axe-bass and my brother-in-law with my homemade Finn hat.

Family bonding at its best.

I've had this stuffed penguin for years. His name is Frodo Yuri. He disapproves of this foolishness.

Adventure Time Crafts: an Ice King Mask

Adventure Time Crafts: an Ice King Mask

Have I ever mentioned I REALLY love penguins?

This is a few weeks late but I still want to share this because I had so much fun doing it. Behold! My Adventure Time Ice King mask.

When I found out my sister was going to make Marceline’s axe-bass for Halloween, I had to up the ante. With a homemade Finn hat already in the family arsenal of costumes, I knew I had to be another Adventure Time character. I dislike pink ensembles, though, so Princess Bubblegum was out of the question. Sewing the Flame Princess’s dress daunted me and a store-bought Ice King costume felt inadequate.

I was intrigued, however, by the idea of making an Ice King mask. There are a lot of cool masks out there, and it certainly solves the problem of having all-over face paint.

After some research, I realized I was drawn towards the threatening and evil fan art of the Ice King. So I bought several blocks of Sculpey III clay in pearl blue and white, assembled the scattered sculpting materials around the house, and got to work.

Initial sculpting of the Ice King. Take note—no nose yet!

Using an old mask covered in foil as a base, I kneaded the clay and repeatedly draped, blended, and cut out the clay to form the face. Since my base was rather bumpy and skull-like, I had to keep fixing portions to get an even sheen.

I used to be a cake decorator and I worked with fondant and gum paste all the time back then. I also took a lot of basic pottery classes, too. All of these old skills were revisited when I tackled this mask. I made sure I had even thickness all around (it’s at least 1/4 inch thick.) Since Sculpey clay needs to be baked, I pricked out all the air bubbles, too. While a pock-marked Ice King doesn’t seem far-fetched, I wanted to go for a little smoothness.

Midway through, I ran out of clay. So I wrapped the mask in plastic so the material would stay pliable. When I got back to the project a few days later, with more clay purchased, everything was still malleable.

The Ice King—now with nose and eyebrows.

I attached the nose during this second round. It is the only section of the mask that is reinforced with wire. I wanted to make the nose longer and bigger but I was worried that the weight of the clay would make it impossible to wear. So I settled for a nose that reached down to my chin.

While working I frequently brought the mask to a large mirror, to make sure 1) I would still be able to see out of it, and 2) the proportions were still good. The asymmetrical look of the mask is intentional. I figured that going for absolute symmetry would be more work and look less threatening in the dark. The Ice King is not supposed to be pretty, folks.

At this point I also added white eyebrows, which I texturized with a brush and some sculpting tools. This was necessary because the white wig and beard I ordered didn’t come with eyebrows.

Beads are a good way to use up excess clay.

Right before baking, I removed the plastic base. I did not remove the foil, though, since doing so might damage all my hard work. I positioned the mask on more foil so it would keep its shape. I then kept a close watch on the oven while it baked.

As a side project, I used up all the remaining blue clay by forming marbleized beads and flat discs. As much smaller objects, these pieces had a shorter baking time.

After an hour in the oven, my Ice King mask was almost done. I let it cool down for a few hours. When it was completely cool to the touch, I peeled off the foil easily. Any bits that clung to the hard clay were easily removed with tweezers.

Baked and ready to wear.

I then got out some superglue and attached a shaped sponge that would cushion my nose from the weight of the mask. I also attached an elastic halter (recycled from another old mask) so that the whole thing would stay firmly in place all night.

With a white wig, a beard, a homemade crown, some metallic blue eye make-up, and a dark blue nightgown, I was ready to accompany my nephews on their quest for free candy.

I’ve never balanced so many things on my head before and the beard was incredibly itchy, but it was fun. I got a huge kick out of freaking out the neighborhood kids, too.

More Adventure Time Photos

More Adventure Time Photos

Here are more photos of the family’s Adventure Time projects. I never got around to finishing the Flame Princess! Maybe next time.

Princess Bubblegum with Finn and Jake.

Shortly after this photo was taken, the Ice King's nose was tragically broken in a fight.

Here's Finn getting baked. Literally.

Axel's customized Finn Lego figure. His dad helped with the hat!

Lady Rainicorn having a quiet moment with her Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure Time and all its characters are the property of Pendleton Ward and Cartoon Network. No copyright infringement is intended. These homemade items were made for fun; they are not for sale.

 

 

Adventure Time Crafts!

Adventure Time Crafts!

Lady Rainicorn with JakeI thought it would be nice to share my family’s Adventure Time projects. I got sucked into its arcane and occasionally terrifying world courtesy of my nine-year-old nephew Axel, who is a constant viewer of Cartoon Network’s afternoon programming. The other shows don’t appeal to me but I absolutely adore Adventure Time. It’s like the secret love child grandson of Terry Gilliam and T.H. White.

Since it’s one of the few cartoons that my nephews and I can agree on, everyone in the household are now fans. My sister has even learned to play the songs on her ukulele.

Of course, the kids have begged my sister to buy the action figures. But she was appalled by the price tags for the whole set, so she bought a ton of Sculpey clay and we made our own. Unfortunately, Lumpy Space Princess’s arms and the Ice King’s nose broke off before we remembered to take photos of all the figures together.

Since I have a weakness for penguins (everything’s better with penguins!) I made Gunter. I’m also proud of my Lady Rainicorn. It was difficult to shape her body while trying to keep the layers of colors clean.

For Axel’s birthday I surprised him with his own crocheted Finn hat. I followed this pattern. It’s a little too big for him, but he still wears it. Along with a backpack, he runs around the house playing Finn.

I also have an unfinished Jake hat in my crochet bag. When the weather turns cold again, maybe I’ll continue it. Crocheting with thick yarn while suffering from the summer heat just feels weird.

I thought about making Finn’s “like-like” sweater, but that would be too much effort for something none of my nephews would wear. Real little boys, it seems, can get cooties from touching the color pink.

 

 

 

Adventure Time and all its characters are the property of Pendleton Ward and Cartoon Network. No copyright infringement is intended. These homemade items were made for fun. They are not for sale.  

Faux Samosas

Faux Samosas

 

As a girl with third world sensibilities, I have a horror of throwing out perfectly good food.  I also understand, however, that trying to finish tons of leftovers can just kill the appetite.  So while I don’t mind recycling edible, clean food… I like to do it with a little style and effort.

These aren’t really proper samosas. They aren’t even empanadas. I am not sure what they are. They are chicken pot pies but I avoid calling it that because my proper chicken pot pie is a casserole. Anyway, the silly name sorts of ensures it will be consumed. People can be very fickle about what they put in their mouths and I do not blame them.

Since I took the trouble of recycling leftovers, I decided to document the process, too.

 

Dough

Proportions doubled from original dough recipe of the Culinary Institute of America’s The Professional Chef (9th edition). The method, however, is pretty much what I remember from cooking school.  

24 oz. all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

8 fluid oz. warm water

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large bowl, sift the flour. Sprinkle the salt on top. Make an indentation in the center of the flour and pour the water and oil into the hole. With a large wooden spoon or a spatula, slowly mix in the liquid into the flour mixture. If it begins to get difficult to use a spoon, knead the mixture with very clean hands, trying to get everything into one big mass. When the dough is smooth, cut into two (or four) pieces and shape into square discs. Cover each disc individually with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

While waiting, consider your filling.

 

The Week’s Chicken Filling

For the filling of this particular version, I used my brother-in-law’s delicious chicken asado, two-thirds of a Costco roast chicken, and the last pieces of my chicken paprika. I could have thrown in a couple of other odds and ends but I feel it was important to preserve the flavor profile of the chicken asado, which I wanted to dominate over everything else. Aside from the leftovers, I assembled:

1 onion, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

leftover chicken, no skin, chopped up nicely

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup frozen peas

1 to 2 teaspoons paprika

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

salt and pepper

I browned the onions in warm olive oil, added the chicken, tomato sauce, peas, and seasonings to taste.

Since I have no idea what leftovers you might be using, good luck with experimenting. Just remember to let the filling cool down before assembling the faux samosas.

 

To Assemble: 

On a large, well-floured board, place the chilled dough. Dig out your rolling-pin. (The CIA dough procedure uses a pasta maker, but since I sold mine when I moved, the rolling pin is an old-fashioned option.)

If you don’t own a rolling pin, a gonzo option includes any heavy cylindrical glass you may have in the cupboard. Just exercise caution while doing this. You don’t want broken glass all over your hands. A tinned soup can, without a label and absolutely clean, should work too.

 

With clean, well-floured hands and a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough, using even pressure throughout. Rotate the dough with each turn, to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of board. Roll out the dough until it reaches a 1/4 inch thickness.

At this point I would like to point out my dough is far from perfect. I can see air pockets and folds. If aesthetics doesn’t bother you too much, feel free to ignore these things in your own work too.

 

 

 

Dig out your pizza cutter—or any sharp chef knife—and cut the dough into squares.

Place a teaspoon or two of chicken filling in the center of the dough square.

 

 

 

 

 

Seal the faux samosa by pinching the edges together. 

For a bit of old-school charm, bring out a fork and primp the edges of the dough.

 

 

 

 

 

To finish: 

Just before deep-frying, brush the surface of the faux samosas with egg wash.

Deep fry in a good quantity of hot oil. Let drain briefly on clean paper towels before serving hot.

I think total preparation time took around two hours. It’s a lot of work but it’s still better than throwing out at least a kilo of chicken. Once these are piping hot and smothered with peanut sauce, it becomes worth the effort.