Thursday, November 29, 2007

Silent Auction + Benefit Concert for the Mexican Flood Victims

Some of my crocheted items will be auctioned off during this concert to benefit the Mexican Flood Victims...

good music + fun people + great cause = super happy fun time

Mexican Flood Benefit Concert


Sunday - December 2nd
2 p.m. to 7p.m.
301 West Riverside Austin, Texas
2 p.m.: Southpaw Jones
3 p.m.: The Daze
4 p.m.: The Harold Ambler Project
5 p.m.: Sam and Henry
6 p.m.: The Shelley King Band

Hosted by your emcee, Spike Gillespie.
Silent art auction.
Admission $10; $5 for 18-and-under.
On Sunday, December 2, local musicians, artists, and businesses are holding a benefit for the victims of the recent flooding in Tabasco, Mexico. Although no longer in the news, Tropical Storm Noel and its aftermath have left devastation in Mexico that will take months and years from which to rebound. In addition to damaging the homes of almost a million people, or about half of Tabasco's population, the flood also devastated crops of corn, bananas and beans that provide the livelihood for thousands.

For Adoption during the Auction: Miss Bunny

Miss Bunny is a freehanded crochet doll complete with Swarovski Crystal earrings. Fancy!

The varigated yarn is actually Belgian yarn that my Aunt Kathy gave to me. She bought it years and years ago - and like any yarn that's taken care of, it's in excellent condition.

The solid color yarn is in lion brand microspun... and the scarf is in fancy fur novelty yarn.

The majority of Miss Bunny was done in single crochet... with the exception of parts of the heart and part of her ears. She is 100% one of a kind.

Also up for auction...

The cutest lil' boots in Texas!

Adorable Cowboy Baby Booties for a brand new Native Texan ;)

They are soo tiny and cute. I want to make a ton of pairs in every color. These were done in Caron Simply Soft Chocolate and Red Heart Buff yarn. I actually followed a pattern for once... and was impressed with myself for not changing it up too much ;)

If you are in Austin - please try to come on Sunday!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Orphan Thanksgiving - Part I

This year for Thanksgiving, I hosted some friends at my place for an Orphan Thanksgiving. Anyone is invited who is around and doesn't have family around for Thanksgiving and everyone who comes contributes something to the meal.

At first I was worried because most of my friends had plans or things to do. And for awhile, I thought it was going to be just me and my friend Dawn. The response to my orhpan thanksgiving email was mixed - with one person actually thinking I was having real orphans over to my place for dinner. Oops.

As the day grew closer, more and more friends were excited to come and it ended up being 6 of us... which is really the perfect number.

I don't have the pics yet from the dinner... but I do have some pics of the things that I made and wanted to share some recipes and variations that I did.

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I followed this recipe with just a few changes. I used a little extra butter (probably 1-2 extra Tablespoons)... and I also stirred in Garlic Salt into the potatoes. I used a ricer (which is the BEST way to make mashed potatoes quickily and easily - it's amazing). Also, used whole milk... probably about 1/2 a cup. My other addition was Rosemary. I cut some up fresh rosemary and stirred it in at the very end. I used more fresh rosemary to garnish and sprinkled Garlic Salt and Pepper over the top. I made these early and put them into the oven to warm them up just before serving. My apartment smelled amazing from the roasted garlic (pictured at left).

If you are planning on putting them into the oven for a long time to warm, be sure to add a little more milk, as this helps to prevent them from getting too dry.

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp is one of my absolute favorite things to make. It's very simple and quick and seems to encompass all things Autumn. There are tons of recipes out there... and I've basically combined several... but also have made it so many times that I don't really follow a recipe. So I'll just write down what I do.

You Need:
2 Large Apples - I normally use Gala or Granny Smith, but those varieties were looking very picked over at the market. So for yesterday's crisp- pictured above, I used 2 HoneyCrisp Apples.

Lots of Cinnamon Sugar. I go through a lot making this recipe, I would get a new bottle of it - or make your own by mixing Ground Cinnamon with Sugar.

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Stick of Butter (I use unsalted sweetened butter)
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal (uncooked)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (I actually don't measure this or the spices, so it's an estimation - feel free to use more or less!)
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Cloves (optional)

What to Do:

Pre-Heat Oven to 375.
Grease a square or round baking pan.
Pour cinnamon sugar onto a plate in a thin layer.
Peel and Slice apples. I use an Apple Corer which cuts the apples into 4 slices, then I cut those slices in half.
Roll apples in the cinnamon sugar, lightly coating them.
Place apples into the baking pan. Feel free to layer them evenly. I usually end up with about 2 layers of apples.
In a bowl, mix together the Brown Sugar, Flour, Oats, Spices. Cut in the butter and mix it all together. Pour the mixture over the apples in the pan.
Bake in the oven for about 30 mins... or until the apples are nice and tender (ie, you can easily slide a knife into the apples).

Voila! Yummtastic! I recommend serving warm with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream on top. The vanilla ice cream really brings out and balances the spices.

I made two of these yesterday... one for the dinner and one for a friend who doesn't love baking. Apple Crisps are very quick to make and always are a big hit.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

The above picture is the only one I got of the pumpkin pie that I made... kind of an afterthought!

I love pumpkin pie... and love making it. It's very easy and the smell is always just amazing. I'm a big fan of making pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin... but, this year I didn't have the time. Actually, I wasn't even going to make pumpkin pie this year... but then I saw this Paula Deen Special on the Food Network on Sunday... and her pie recipe inspired me to give it a shot. She used APPLE BUTTER in her pie. I love love love apple butter... so I knew I had to try it.

I made about 30 mini pumpkin pies from the recipe for work on Wednesday. Actually, I did 1/2 of the pies from the Paula Deen recipe and 1/2 from my old recipe. Both went quickly. I made a few changes, though, from that trial run to the pumpkin pie that I made yesterday.

This is the Paula Deen Recipe....

and here's my input :o)

I added a little more brown sugar... and I also added 1/8 teaspoon of Cloves. I love Cloves in pumpkin pie. I used organic canned pumpkin. Also, for my trial run, the apple butter I used was not that great. It was very thin and light - almost like an apple jam. The spices in it were very light. I really recommend using as "authentic" an apple butter as you can, ie as close to homemade as possible. It should be dark in color and very thick. You should be able to smell the AllSpice! The second time, I used Apple Butter that was more authentic. It cost me more, but it was the right consitency and made a HUGE difference.

Anyway - other than that, I followed Paula's recipe... and it was a big hit ;o)

Thanks and hope everyone had a great holiday! I'll Post Part II when I get the pics from my guests!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A *gasp* Healthy Dessert?

So we all know that I love to make insanely insinful, uber-decadent desserts. That being said, like to avoid giant swings in my blood sugar...
I finally found a dessert for ME.

Awhile back, my friend Miriam and her son were visiting Austin and we went to Home Slice Pizza. They accidentally brought us the wrong pizza. While we waited for our new one, they brought us a consolation prize - in the form of a small dessert cup with a spoonful of dessert ricotta.

I had never had anything so creamy and delicious. It was like ice cream, but richer - creamer, and fresher. Amazing.

I was at the grocery store and saw ricotta yesterday and thought - hey, I wonder if I could make a healthy version of that thing?

I picked up the part-skim variety of it... and created a tasty treat!

Basically, you take a 1/2 cup of part skim ricotta cheese. Get the good stuff that's nice and smmmmmooth.
Stir in some Vanilla Extract and a packet of splenda.

That's it.

I thought I was really smart- then I googled it this morning and discovered that this is actually a huge Low-Carb/South Beach Diet dessert.
So, I'm not that clever.

But.... it is tried and true... and there are lots of other ideas all over the internets like adding a bit of peanut butter and some chocolate syrup...
or lemon extract! or strawberries! or... chocolate chips!

The dessert has lots of protein and not a lot of sugar... so it doesn't cause big swings in sugar for me...

and it tastes great :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blanket for Mon Craiggers

About a month ago, I saw a lot of Caron Simply Soft yarn on supersale in Autumn Red and ended up buying quite a bit of it. It's a very deep, dark red - warm and reminds me of the holidays.

I used a bit of it to make my dress... but then still had a few skeins left over.

I had been eyeing round ripple afghan patterns and thought that maybe it would be a fun project to try. I didn't know who I was making it for, but figured that I would decide on that later on.
So, I took my autumn red and started going around and around and around.

I thought I was following the pattern... but I really do have a habit of getting "creative" with instructions and doing my own thing.

Rather than being a round circle, my blanket started to spiral.
I thought it was beginning to look more masculine.

As I neared the end of my first skein of red, I got an email from my friend Annette from film school.

She's in some exotic location or another shooting a reality show. She wrote to let me know that our close friend Craig's mother passed away.

It was so hard to hear the news - Craig and his mother were amazing together and really had an impressive mother-son relationship. She was so caring, witty, supportive, and wonderful.

I'm miles and miles away from Craig and I was sad that I couldn't give him a big hug and support him more as he goes through this.

I thought about what I could do - and my mind immediately leapt to the round ripple blanket that I had started. The red was almost like a merlot color - and his mother was very into wine tasting and collecting. And a blanket is comforting and great to snuggle up under.

I finished stitching up the blanket as quickly as I could, alternating with rows of Caron's Simply Soft in Grey Heather. The end size is approx 60" point to point. For the pictures, it is spread out on a full sized futon.

The result is a warm, snuggly, albeit masculine blanket that Craig can snuggle under while he is reading or watching a movie. It's kind of almost in the shape of a ninja star or something - which is a result of the spiral instead of doing this in the round, as I was supposed to. I kind of like the effect, the blanket has an interesting shape to it.

I'm hoping that it will remind Craig that he is loved and in my thoughts.