Aug 312014
 
still-life2

My craft desk the weekend after getting back from vacation

Earlier this summer I manned the embroidery table at Brooklyn Craft Company’s summer craft extravaganza. I enjoyed teaching folks how to embroider (many were learning it for the first time – so rewarding to introduce people to a new craft!) and seeing how creative people got with their pieces. Check out some of the photos on Instagram: little bunny poopoo, the embroidery table, a pair of heartbroken kitties (they live together but alas, don’t get along), and a hamburger.

At the end of the night, there was a drawing for several raffle prizes – and I won the grand prize! The package included tons of sewing goodies, like this mini iron. Aww, so cute.

mini-iron

Admittedly, at first I thought this would be a gadget I’d hold onto for a while but never use. Turns out it’s great for ironing all the little crevices of fabric in an embroidered design without pressing your stitches. Do you spot a little stitched face peeking out from behind the iron? More to come on this project soon.

Another gadget I’ve had collecting dust in our apartment is this spiralizer. I got it months ago (um, over the winter holidays? <blush>) so I could make zucchini noodles, and never got around to actually using it. Inspiration finally struck when I was organizing another picnic with friends at the Botanic Garden. I broke out the raw foods cookbooks for “live spaghetti” recipes. Spiralizing vegetables feels pleasantly ridiculous, and so satisfying!

spiralizer

I marinated the noodles in a sauce made with fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil, Bragg’s, and a little nutritional yeast blended in the food processor – delicious. I added sliced black olives and basil to the dish and let it marinate overnight. Apparently that was WAY too much sauce for the 4 zucchinis I spiralized, and so I made gazpacho out of the leftovers. It feels great to soak up the last of these summery foods before the evening chill we’ve had this past week starts seeping into daytime.

Do you have any weird crafty gadgets you’re not sure what to do with? Or that you finally got around to using?

Jul 202014
 

This past week I switched gears in my knitting projects. For a little while I was swatching peacock-inspired lace patterns for a summery cardigan. Now that project is on hold while I work up a piece for a PLANTS art show my friend is curating.

Here’s a little sneak preview of what will grow up to become an interactive tree toy, if all goes well:

tree-sneak

I’m excited to design and make a project to contribute to an art exhibit. The short time frame is appealing: both motivating and a little terrifying, as I’ve gotta finish by the end of the month (yikes). I plan to write up and publish the pattern after the show.

Switching gears to kitchen craftings, wanna see some tasty pie?

cherry-cheesecake

Oh cherry cheesecake, your layers are beautiful and delicious.

My partner’s birthday was last week, and in continuing the tradition of making raw desserts for each other on special occasions, I prepared a raw cherry cheesecake. I mostly followed this recipe, while drawing some inspiration from this lemon cherry cheesecake as well.

Modifications from the first recipe: in the cherry pie layer, I used less coconut oil, added lemon juice, and substituted psyllium seed husk powder for xanthan gum since that’s what I had in the pantry.

As with most raw desserts, I store this cake in the freezer. Thaw for 15 minutes, add some sliced cherries, and devour.

cherry-cheesecake-slice

In addition to enjoying the occasional raw dessert, we drink a lot of tea in this household. I stopped by the tea shop near my work, Harney & Sons SoHo, for some oolong to add to Charles’ birthday gift. The only label indicating the type of tea was on an ugly bar code, which I simply can’t abide. So I labelled the bag using a little hand-lettering technique I’ve been practicing.

hand-lettered-tea

Basically you make the downward stroke of each letter thicker. I’m still a total newbie at this, practicing by making names pretty on the envelopes I address at work. Skillshare has several hand-lettering classes I’d like to check out.

hand-lettered-tea-closeup

For the tea drinkers out there, this Dong Ding Oolong is delicious, and re-steeps well – I’m sipping on a third steeping right now and it still has a nice flavor.

One day when Charles went to make some of the tea, he looked at the bag and asked, “Is this someone’s handwriting?” When I smiled excitedly and said yes, he studied it again and said, “Wait, is it your handwriting? It looks really cool!” Oh sweet bonus reward of crafting praise, I never tire of you.

Jul 132014
 
Hello delicious plate of picnic goodness! Tahini Seaweed Salad in the upper right corner

Hello delicious plate of picnic goodness! Tahini Seaweed Salad in the upper right corner

Having the Brooklyn Botanic Garden practically in our backyard is pretty amazing. I like to pop in for an hour on weekends with my knitting or a book and lounge in the grass under the cherry trees. And sometimes there are special events and the garden is open into the evening – and they actually allow you to bring food and picnic blankets! We invited some friends for a picturesque garden picnic and shared so much delicious food until the sun went down. The evening magic continued with a field of twinkling fireflies bidding us farewell.

I made Tahini Seaweed Salad for the occasion. This is definitely my favorite salad dressing of late, and I think it would work well in non-seaweed applications, too. Oo, like as a dipping sauce for summer rolls.

Tahini Seaweed Salad, adapted from Fresh: The Ultimate Live-Food Cookbook

Dressing
1 TB tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TB total combination of coconut aminos and Bragg’s (Nama Shoyu or soy sauce would also work)
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp honey
1/8 tsp salt

Optional (use ’em if you got ’em)
a squeeze of sriracha
dash of garlic powder
splash of sesame oil

Blend ingredients in the blender to a creamy consistency, adding a splash or two of water if needed. Serves 2.

Salad
For the salad, mix up any veggies you like. I consider the following three essential:

seaweed (I use a handful of wakame, soaked a few minutes and strained)
tomatos
avocado

Beyond these, add whatever veggies and nuts you have on-hand. Typically I include kale, carrots, cucumber, and bell pepper, chopped finely, along with a handful of raw cashew pieces. If you feel like getting fancy, massage the kale with the dressing first before adding the rest of the veggies into the salad bowl.

Let me know if you give the salad a try! What’s your favorite homemade salad dressing?

Jun 142014
 

Flavored simple syrup first got on my radar when I came across a booth filled with different flavors at my local  Greenmarket one weekend. Evolutionary Organics offers several varieties, including lemongrass, basil, mint, and a delicious super chai syrup.

And yet, it hadn’t occurred to me to make simple syrup myself until talking with a bartender during a mixology class – part of a glass-etching workshop at Brooklyn Craft Company. He made it sound so easy. Simple, even. (Hah.) Turns out he’s right!

I made a double batch for a friend’s birthday party: rosemary simple syrup and mint simple syrup.

simple-syrups

The steeping process: boil 1 part water and 1 part sugar til the sugar dissolves. Pour over 1 part herbs, and cover with saran wrap to trap in flavor that would otherwise escape with the steam while steeping. When the syrup has cooled, strain into a glass bottle (I used a funnel and tea brewing basket combo) and refrigerate.

In deciding what flavor syrups to infuse, I researched warm-weather cocktail ideas. That got me looking forward to experimenting with this summer cocktail recipe now that it’s finally warmed up here in NYC. Spring cocktails vaguely on the cheap taught me about the Schmallet, a wooden mallet used for crushing ice in a heavy canvas bag. And so at the party I couldn’t stop telling friends about the Schmallet and giggling midway through the awkward consonant cluster.

The mint syrup worked well with a gin, bourbon, lime, ginger ale, and seltzer blend that the party hosts concocted. Mixing rosemary syrup with bourbon was also really tasty. That base played well with St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) in one cocktail, and a splash of berry and lemon juice in another.

My friend really liked the flavored syrups. She said I’ve inspired her to cook items that usually seem out of reach – like these syrups, as well as pickles (more to come on that later) – which felt great. Spread the kitchen love!