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Medusa Pepper Plant

September 16th, 2012 8:10 pm

I’ve always admired the plants with multicolored mini peppers that I see at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, so this year I bought one. The vendor had two kinds: sweet and hot. I purchased sweet, but I wasn’t convinced that the peppers would be completely mild. I thought they would be LESS spicy than the “hot” kind. I got the courage to try eating one recently, and I found it completely mild – no heat whatsoever – like a mini bell pepper. I suppose I could cook with these little sweet peppers, but I bought the plant mainly to look interesting. Because it seems completely devoid of capsaicin, I think it is a Medusa Pepper.

It looks a lot like this (photo source here)

The nights are getting cooler here, and I plan to bring the plant inside soon. I’m not sure if this pepper is pet-safe.  Most pepper plants are NOT considered safe around cats and dogs (or children), but I think capsaicin is the main concern, and this plant seems to have none. Some internet search results suggest it is child-safe, but I will still keep it out of reach of my cat.

Happy New Year!

January 5th, 2012 11:21 pm

My creativity has been really on and off these last few months.  I have managed to accomplish a few things, though:

Three French Hens from Jim Shore’s 12 Days of Christmas

I’ve been working on these for a few years – it seems unlikely that I will finish three sets of 12 like I originally planned (oh, ambition!), but I’m still plugging away on set #1. Next up: Four Calling Birds.

felted knit slippers (for me)

Finishing these slippers was a 2012 resolution (yes, I make it easy on myself). I had done 1.5 before running out of yarn. They’re really easy, but running out of yarn sort of stalled me for a few months. Silly, I know.

Cathedral Window pillow cover

The Cathedral Window pillow cover was done by machine piecing the background and sewing all of the windows together with loose flaps dangling before inserting the colored “panes” and hand turning the windows.  The second shot shows my sloppy attempt at an invisible zipper using a regular zipper foot – oh well.  I still love it.

The fabrics on the front are mostly Michelle Hill’s Adelaide Collection and Jason Yenter’s Camelot Collection along with a few bits and pieces of random stuff.  I really loved both fabric collections and bought a fat quarter bundle of both, then realized that quite a few of the fabrics would go together well enough for this project and that the colors would look pretty good with my IKEA embroidered pillows.  I still have a lot of fabric left, of course, since the windows only used a tiny bit of each fabric.  the border was nearly an entire fat quarter, and I was so glad I had enough to do it.  The back fabric is from an IKEA ironing board cover that I bought without considering my ironing board’s dimensions.  My ironing board is significantly longer, but I liked the print well enough to use it for a pillow back.  Overall, I’m pleased.  The cathedral windows were a lot of work, but I did them during the summer when we went to a lot of outdoor concerts where I could sit and work on putting the colored bits in the windows and hand sewing the window frames without distraction.

I want to work on some tile quilt blocks for pillow covers with the remaining fabric.

Bracelet

August 11th, 2011 10:07 pm

I bought a very pretty clasp at the bead shown in town this spring, and I’ve been puzzling over what to do with it. I did a Google image search for bracelets with three strand clasps and somehow stumbled on chain maille. I decided to try Japanese 12 in 2 chain maille for this bracelet, and I like the way it turned out:

I found the bracelet surprisingly hard to photograph – or maybe I’m just tired. I think it looks better in person.  There are amazing free resources for doing maille online, and I was able to get away with some craft store “bright silver” rings.  If I decide to do anything more complicated, I will have to order some rings in appropriate sizes.  This isn’t too bad, but it’s maybe a little loose.  I did 12 in 1 (one layer of big rings) first, and 12 in 2 definitely gave it more structure.  I don’t recommend going through and adding another layer of big rings afterward like I did.  It definitely would be easier to start out doing 12 in 2.

It’s definitely not perfect, but I still like it, and I think I have the patience to do more maille in the future if inspiration strikes.

Lost in the Cosmos

August 2nd, 2011 8:18 pm

August

August 1st, 2011 8:14 pm

I can’t believe it’s August already.

Honey, is our refrigerator staring at me?

July 24th, 2011 8:57 pm

So, I saw this tutorial on making magnetic googly eyes the other day, and I knew I had to do it. I have always thought about putting googly eyes on random household objects. There’s something about them that just makes me laugh, so why not. I purchased a variety bag of “wiggly eyes” for 99c and a roll of adhesive magnetic paper (that was the expensive part). The magnetic paper is fairly thin, like a promotional magnet, and that might be an issue. The magnetic force doesn’t seem very strong. I didn’t have any trouble sticking it to the eyes, though. The adhesive is nice and strong, and eliminates the need for any glue.  I’m not too concerned with  making perfect circles of magnet, so I’ve just been cutting them out with scissors.

So far our fridge, dishwasher, and magnetic whiteboard have eyes. I’m considering carrying a bunch of these around with me to stealth-decorate random metal surfaces at friends’ houses.  Even better, I can use the magnetic paper for other magnets, like photos under glass marbles.

Chocolate Ice Cream Adventure

July 14th, 2011 8:17 pm

I’ve attempted chocolate ice cream before, and the recipe is basically add 1 c. cocoa powder to vanilla ice cream.  So tonight I decided to try to add chocolate to the new techniques with corn starch and cream cheese that I’ve been trying lately.  The base thickened up a lot more than the vanilla and mint, which I remember being true with the egg custard version too.  The base is also a bit lumpy, but I hope that will strain out.

I’m already thinking of some improvements for next time.  I think maybe melted chocolate would be better than cocoa powder.  The cocoa powder just tastes… like cocoa powder!  Maybe it’s a little too bitter.  I don’t know.  I’m considering doctoring the cold base with a little more corn syrup or thinning it with some milk.  I’m not sure yet if I will, and I may end up with too much base for my machine to freeze in one batch.

I scream, you scream…

July 7th, 2011 9:18 pm

Hello, blog.  It’s been a while.  I’ve been focusing my creative energy in other places, but in the end I always end up feeling like a beacon in the fog.  I’m sending out signals, and rarely do I get anything back.  Well, I’ve decided that’s fine with me.  This blog is actually an easier medium for that experience (less noise).

In the past week or so I’ve made two batches of ice cream based on this article on Jeni’s artisan ice cream. It was a year or two ago when I first read about Jeni’s ice cream and using corn starch to thicken instead of eggs. Brian could tell you about a time (or two?) when I added too much corn starch to a soup we were making and we ended up eating paste. So these days, I’m cautious about telling Brian I’m using corn starch, and I’m also cautious about how much I use. I like frozen custard, but it always seems like an egg-stravagant use of eggs (sorry! couldn’t resist).

My first batch was vanilla. I had no whole milk or vanilla beans in the house, so I did a little improvisation. I had been planning on making ice cream with half and half and heavy cream, so I used some combination of those along with our standby household milk, 1%. I used vanilla extract for flavoring. It was “good” vanilla as the Barefoot Contessa would say.  The resulting ice cream was good, but it was still not as custard-like as I had hoped. Next, I tried mint. I didn’t really do much different (peppermint extract instead of vanilla), but somehow the ice cream base looked a bit thicker when I poured it in the machine. I added in some mini chocolate chips to the mint version at the end. Both ice creams have not had the unpleasant, “gritty”, fat coagulation on the spoon that I’ve had in the past with the heavy cream and half and half (without milk) mix. But they do have this quality I can only describe as “frozen milk”. Not very smooth and creamy. My theory is that I need to cook the base longer to thicken it more. In both cases I’ve had a hard time getting the base to boil without starting to burn the sugar, which has given both ice creams a hint of caramel (maybe not a bad thing).

Both of these ice creams were thinner after churning than what I remember from making ice cream from other recipes in past years. But after freezing, they seem fine, pretty scoop-able, not glacier hard. I want to try chocolate next. I loved the flavor of the chocolate custard I made last year, but the texture was off.  I’m hoping to pick up some whole milk so I can really follow the recipe.

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

March 17th, 2011 7:07 pm

Tonight we made the Skillet Chicken Pot Pie from the Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV cookbook (or whatever).  Brian isn’t a big fan of chicken pot pie, mostly because he’s horrified by the caloric content and cooking time for the small pies you can buy in the freezer section.  After he helped cook this version and also helped eat it, his mind has changed a little.  I approve of this recipe.  I think it will go in the permanent rotation with almost zero moderation.  I’m considering using pearl onions instead of minced onion.

Jim Shore 12 Days of Christmas – 2 Turtle Doves

February 7th, 2011 6:49 pm

Done! I’m cheering myself up about my failure to complete all 12 in 2010 by saying I’m now ahead for 2011 since it’s early February and I’m already done with 2/12. I shouldn’t fool myself – Feb. is a short month. I started 3 French Hens already, so… good work…