Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If you want to be in my family...you better be creative.

I was hoping to squeeze in a sewing project or new baking recipe this weekend, but between SMU's tailgate festivities and my ever increasing reading load, I just did not have time.  So to hold you over until I find sometime to do a new project, I figured I'd share some of my sister's baking endeavors with you this week.

The women in my family are creative.  For the most part we can all paint, sew, and cook...well, except for one of my cousins, but she was excommunicated a couple of years ago for her failures.  I kid, I kid.  But in all sincerity, we all seem to have some sort of domestic expertise.  This probably explains why we paint ornaments every Christmas and compete to have the best ornaments.  Keeping the best paintbrush is a full contact sport.  It's been known to cause family feuds.

Hyacinth is a nursing student at the University of Texas and enjoys baking in her free time.  She's completely self-trained and I'm so proud of what she's managed to teach herself!  If you're in the Austin area and need a cake, let me know!  She'd love to bake one for you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lazy Sundays

(This post was originally intended for Sunday, but I got distracted with the lamp project.)

Sundays have always been my favorite day of the week.  When I was a child Sundays were filled with Sunday School and church, a late brunch, and an entire day of watching football with the family.  Although, not much has changed about my Sundays, I appreciate them much more than I did as a child.  Sundays are the one day of the week I allow myself to unwind and recharge.  Don't get me wrong, they're usually filled with reading and outlining, but at a much slower pace.  I sleep in.  I lounge on my patio with a cup (or 3) of coffee.  I snuggle with my dog.  And most importantly, I take the time to eat and enjoy breakfast/brunch.  Recently, I decided lazy Sunday was the perfect time to tackle poaching an egg, great idea.

Lazy Sunday Poached Eggs

Poached eggs often get a bad wrap.  I've read countless blogs, commentaries, and comments about the difficulty of poaching an egg.  The concept never seemed hard to me- you slide an egg into a pot of simmering water.  Fortunately, the reality of poaching an egg isn't much more difficult.  To poach an egg, bring a fairly large size pot of water to a simmer.  Do not let the water boil.  If it's too hot the egg will cook too quickly and it'll take on an unpleasant rubbery texture.  Add about a tablespoon (I never bother measuring) of either salt or vinegar to the water to help bind the egg together.  I always use vinegar.  Crack the egg into a small vessel so that it's easier to slide into the water.  When the water is at a swimmer swirl it with a slotted spoon to make a small whirlpool in the pot.  (And you thought cooking was boring.)  Gently slide the egg from the small vessel into the swirling water.  This swirling water will help the egg wrap around itself so that there aren't weird looking strings hanging from the egg.  Turn off theheat and let your egg slowly cook until it's slightly buoyant, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Using the slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water and let it drain on a paper towel for a couple minutes.  If you do have any strings cut them off before serving, although this is purely for aesthetic purposes.

Assembly- Layer a fresh biscuit with sliced steak, pulled pork, or anything else that sounds tasty.  Place the poached egg on top of this.  Sprinkle with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and sweet paprika.  When ready to eat, pierce the egg yolk and watch the magic...

I may be drooling.

All in all, this terrific Sunday brunch took me about 10 minutes to make and less than that to eat.  
Not a bad way to recharge for the week ahead.

Monday, September 20, 2010

From wine...to lamp? (DIY)

I love lamps.  Anyone who's ever been in my house knows how much I prefer mood lighting over glaring overheads lights.  May place may have been described as a cave from time to time.  It also doesn't help that every apartment I've lived in has had those horridly tacky fluorescent overhead lights.  Seriously, who decided those were a good idea.  The only thing I do not love about lamps are the price.  Although you can generally find a nice lamp for under $100, I'm in law school.  There are a billion other things I'd rather buy with $100 than lamps- like shoes or fabric.

So this Sunday I set out to break the expensive lamp habit (and avoid doing the 50 pages of Constitutional law reading I needed to finish.  30 minutes and approximately $30 later I'd succeeded.

Love it! and the new cabinet I scored off Craiglist this weekend.

Interested?  Here's the Full How To

From Wine to Lamp

  • Empty 1.5 liter wine bottle (You could use a smaller bottle, but you'd also need a smaller lampshade.)
  • 7" lampshade- $10 at Target.
  • Lamp kit- $10, available at any home improvment store.  Make sure you pick a lamp kit with a "bottle nipple."  This stabilizes the lamp fixture on the bottle.
  • 50' of twine- $5, available at any home improvement store.  I recommend looking for twine with interesting color variations.
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors.
  • Following the super easy instructions on the lamp kit, assemble the lamp fixture and place it on top of the wine bottle.  Do not be intimated by this part.  I am certainly not any sort of electrical guru and managed to assemble the kit, by myself, in less than 5 minutes. 

  • Tape the lamp cord down the length of the wine bottle.  This enables you to cover the lamp cord with the twine so that it's not hanging down the back of the lamp.  

  • Hot glue a small section of the twine to the base of the bottle.  Glue the twine down ever 2" until you're back to the beginning and glue again to complete the first circle.

  •  Making sure the twine is taught, begin to wrap the bottle, gluing each time you complete a circle.  When you reach the part of the bottle that begins to narrow you'll need to use more hot glue.  I went back to the 2" gluing distances just to make sure there wasn't an slipping.

  • One you reach the top of the bottle cut the excess twine and secure with hot glue.  Place the lampshade onto of the bulb and enjoy!

Sit back and enjoy the lovely, non fluorescent, light from your under $30 lamp.  Take that Pottery Barn!

Until next time!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Recently my coworker asked if I could paint a couple of paintings for her daughter's room.   Although she basically left all the creative decisions to me each of the girls picked the color of their names.  I wanted the backgrounds to be pink but didn't like any of the colors I had on hand so I decided that I'd mix a couple of pinks to create the color that I wanted...Big. Mistake.  A word to the wise- when painting the background of a painting DO NOT mix colors, unless of course you mix an entire bucket of the color.  I didn't do that.  So here I was at 1 am, covered in various shades of pink, attempting to match my current paint color to the color I'd already painted and trying to match each girl's painting to the other.  How did I rectify the mess?  By crying, going to bed, and repainting both of the backgrounds the next morning.  The rest of the painting went fairly smoothly from there.  In the end I had cute girly paintings that both my coworker and her daughter's loved!

I have a couple more children paintings lined up for Christmas.  Maybe this is where I quit law school and become a starving artist...maybe not.

Cute Little Girls!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bon Jour, I'm Julia Child...Ok, maybe not

But it was French night at my house recently.

After watching Julie and Julia for about the billionth time, I realized that I'd never tried one of Julia's recipes and as reminded by my friend, that I'm terrible at following them in the first place. I think the exact phrase was, "don't give Summer one of your favorite family recipes, because she's going to go what she wants with it anyway."  In my defense they always end up better my way, but I digress.

So if I was going to follow a recipe from start to finish, I figured a Julia Child would be the way to go.  I decided on her famous boeuf a la bourguigonne (and people thought I wouldn't be able to put my French to practical use).  Boeuf a la bourguigonne is basically a stewed meat dish and although it's fairly labor intensive in the beginning, it can be made a day in advance, which makes it perfect for dinner parties.  Prior to cooking this meal, I hated mushrooms.  I could not understand why anyone would eat a fungus...until I skillet fried them in butter.  They were melt in your mouth delicious.  However, the real show stopper were the slow simmered pearl onions.  I literally could have eaten an entire bowl of those pearls of deliciousness.  When the meat, mushrooms, and pearls were all combined (after the meat simmered for 4 hours) the entire dish was nothing short of extraordinary.  Everyone should try this recipe at least once.  It's definitely going on my "special dinner" rotation list.

The French Feast:
Brie, Pears, and Artisan Crackers
A fresh baguette
Boeuf a la bourguigonne
Sweet Cream and Strawberries for dessert

It was pretty fantastic and definitely worth all of the effort and money!  You should give it a try!

Appetizer set up and yes, I did design and print out a menu.

The Star of the Hour

Sweet Cream and Berries- A thin custard that was oh so delicious.  Please ignore the mess in the background!
Utnil next time,

Bon Appetit!