Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vegetable Tofu Pad Thai- Recipe 2 of 12


For my second new recipe for 2012 I tried to recreate one of my FAVORITE Oriental dishes-Pad Thai. I used this recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday FoodVegetable and Tofu Pad Thai

I wanted to tackle my phobia/aversion to oriental cooking, learn how to cook tofu properly, and try something with a ton of ingredients. This recipe satisfied all those condition. However, I wasn't overly thrilled with the result. I even tried cooking it a second time, but I still didn't like it. Here's what I learned:

{COOKING WITH TOFU}
Tofu is one my go-to meal additions. I am not a vegetarian, but my cooking skills are pretty much limited to chicken and fish. I don't  really like red meat, and I have been unsuccessful in cooking most pork, so I leave that to the restaurant set. I cook a lot o tofu, but it usually turned out too squishy and watery, or burnt if I tried to cook it too long. Tofu comes in a plastic tub covered in water, which I would drain off. 

Shout out to Pintrest for randomly showing me a link called "Tips for Cooking Tofu" (sorry, I can't find the link again-I didn't pin it??) The site talked about getting all the water out of the tofu before you cook it. It explained that you should take the large brick of tofu and slice it in half lengthwise. Picture two wide decks of playing cards. Then take each half and press it between 2 paper towels. Press gently so it doesn't stick, and they should look like rectangular pancakes-maybe an inch thick?

OMG that made a HUGE difference! Each little cubed turned out brown and firm, just like in a restaurant! I have a feeling this is one of those things that everyone else but me knows....if it is-don't burst my bubble, ok?  I felt pretty smart after trying it ; ).
Isn't it pretty?

{COOKING RICE NOODLES}
My pasta cooking skills are pretty good, but I had never tried to cook rice noodles (or any other kind of noodle-egg, tofu, quinoa......for goodness sakes). Actually, I figured it was pretty much the same, so I boiled the water, stirred the noodles until good and tender, drained, rinsed. What I ended up with was very overcooked clumps of noodles I cut with a fork.....um, what?

So, then I read the directions...........duh. To save you the pain of eating clumpy, tough noodles with no sauce on them, this is the gist. Boil water, add noodles, stir for about 5 mins, drain, rinse. My friend Tiffany says she actually boils the water, removes form heat, then soaks the noodles for about 7-10 mins and hers turn out great each time. I'm pretty sure this might be something everyone else knows too........you're welcome.
 
{FINISHED DISH}
 I modified the recipe only slightly, I added a TBSP of fish sauce, because it didn't call for any and I thoughts that was weird. Something was off about the sauce, but I can't put my finger on it. It was too sour or something. I made this with Tiffany and she couldn't put her finger on it either. I don't think I'll be making it again.


Thanks for stopping by! 

I'm currently in the market for a great Pad Thai recipe, so if you have one-link me up!

Later,
Michelle

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good Reads

I wouldn't call myself a 'voracious' reader. I have many friends who ready dozens of books a year, sometimes more than one at a time. They have varied interests, and love talking about books. My interest in books ebbs and flows. I can go months without reading anything more than a magazine. Sometimes I have a big stack on my bedside table.  I also seem to be easily swayed-I see someone online gushing about an author or I hear about a really great upcoming movie based on a book (ahem, Hunger Games) and I can't wait to read it and know what everyone is talking about.

Lately, I have been on a kick. Not only have I READ several great books, but I have downloaded audiobooks like crazy. I have always loved a good audiobook-not only for long car rides, but also for cleaning days or crafting days. Sometimes I can get totally lost listening to a great actor reading a really engaging story.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite recent reads/listens. Vacation time will be hear before you know it. Better to be prepared:

{BOOKS}

-The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
. He was such a powerful and engaging writer. This is accounts of his life totally compiled from letters, speeches and articles he wrote. If you are a history person, so worth the read.



-Dirty Sexy Politics
. I am only half way through, but so far, so great. Her perspective on the election process is so interesting. She puts into words that struggle of being a twenty something and figuring out who you are and what you believe. People assume she is just like her famous father, and in some ways she is. But, in most ways, she is just like a lot of us at that age-forming our own opinion and making our own mistakes.

-Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel (Stephanie Plum Novels)
. This is  the latest book by one of my favorite authors. The Stephanie Plum novels are some of my all time favorites and some of the only books I will read more than once. They are HILARIOUS. Easy reads, pure fluff. Anytime someone needs a vacation recommendation, I always recommend a novel from this series.

{AUDIOBOOKS}

-The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set
. Yep, that sound you hear was me jumping on  the bandwagon. My nephew raved about them and we have a long standing love affair with the Harry Potter series, so I knew I would like them. I'm glad I listened to them, I could sneak in an hour here and there. By the end I got a little tired of the young adult language, but overall I thought the story was so creative and really drew me in. I can't wait to see the movie (side note: Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss is from Louisville. This movie has been all over the media here. That might have helped really pique my interest.)

-Commencement (Vintage Contemporaries)
. This story is perfect for anyone my age who reminisces about her college days. Put into words that awkward phase in your life when you change at a breakneck pace and how friendships that were your whole world in college change (and sometimes fall apart). I saw myself so much in the characters.


- Alex Cross Novels, James Patterson
. Not new books, but new to me. I started at the first one and am making my way through them all. I LOVE the Crass characters! They are murder mysteries, but Alex Cross is so a  complex character, each novel is fresh (not just like watching another episode of CSI, know what I mean?)


-Next up?Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
, I have heard great things about his author, I can only imagine hearing someone read about the president killing vampire is going to be EPIC. And, yes, I decided to read it after hearing about the upcoming movie. ; )

I find alot of my audiobooks from the library, and on a site called Audible.com. The price can add up, so I try to get most of them from the library, which luckily, is getting even easier.

Looking for recommendations from your friends? Well, there's an app for that- Good Reads. I just started using it, so I have no idea if it's any good-I'll get back to you!

Whats the last book you read that you loved?? Do tell!

Michelle


Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 5 year old quilt project (Tips and Tricks For Making a T-Shirt Quilt)

Today I wanted to share a quilt I finished last month for my bestie Torrie. She saw one I finished about ten years for myself and fell in love with it. I offered to make her one of her very own.We went back and forth for a while about how big it was going to be (she wanted to give me every t-shirt she saved from high to adult years. I reminded her that the fabric does not magically sew itself together, and if she wanted it in this lifetime. she had to cut it down).  It took us a few years to coordinate what it would look like, etc. and about six months to finish it-mostly because I would work on it here and there, then walk away and come back a month later. I finally wrapped it up and delivered it a few weeks ago so I can now reveal the finished blanket and pass on some tricks I learned along the way.

Check it out:

So, I realize this angle is crazy and you can't see the bottom edge, but it was as close as I was going to get. It is BIG (probably enough to more than cover a twin sized bed) and I am SHORT.....so it was hard to get a good photo. 
Around the Interwebs:
Now, obviously I am not the first person in the world to take old t-shirts and sew them into a quilt. I figure why invent the wheel, so here are a few websites I found with great resources on the topic:

-this post on Squidoo is excellent-lots of pictures and background information. It walks you through from start to finish
- this blog post from another crafter who made this type of quilt. Great ideas here! 
-a list of books from Amazon. I used this book when I made my own quilt years ago and I think sometimes nothing beats a paper book you can leave open on the table and reference. 
-This YouTube video took the scary out of mitred corners. They really do make a project look so much more finished.
 

Take It From Me:
A few pieces of advice from my own experience
-I hate measuring, and I am not really that good at being accurate. Therefore to make my life easier I made all my blocks two sizes-one larger and rectangular, one small and square. Before I pieced he top together I layed it out on the floor to make sure I had every piece accounted for and it looked right. Because I also can't count worth a lick I ended up with one extra panel. It had a big stain anyway, so I just put it to the side.

-the small square pieces I ended up cutting into a circle and grouping together on a rectangular panel. I mimicked the same panel at the opposite end. That helped me keep it straight in my head and I liked the way it looked.

- I fused lightweight interfacing to the back of the t shirts before I cut them out. I think it helps tremendously to do it before-that way you know the whole piece is covered and when you cut them out there is less raveling. I just eye balled the size I need.

-For the strips I used old jeans. Ones I bought on the cheap at Goodwill and some from my 'to donate' pile. I love LOVE the way the old denim looks. I mean, you mostly wear t-shirts with jeans anyway. I did buy a yeard of denim for the binding because I wanted that to look consistent all the way around.

-Did you know that they make fusible cotton batting? Oh yeah, that makes the whole'sandwich the layers and quilt them' part a WHOLE lot easier.

-I hate quilting. There I said it. I love to plan the top, piece it together, add embellishments, but the actual process of sewing hte layers together...ugh. More than once I considered paying someone else to do it. ahem.  Then I decided to tie quilt it together using buttons from my stash.  I actually like the detail, but my technique needs work-a few buttons fell victim to the dryer. Never good.

- Over the years I collected a few patches to accent the squares. They were iron on, but I reinforced them with stitching. See above.

So, there you go! Have any questions? Post them in the comments! Have any other tips/tricks/links?? Post them too!


Later,
Michelle
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Studio Calico Stamps

Hey y'all! 

Everyone having a good spring? Yes? good. Things have been buzzing along here in Bazeleyland. I am in a major spring cleaning phase. Purging a few piles of clutter left over from when I moved into my condo last July. I also have a list of repairs and projects that never quite got finished. Feels good to tackle them.

Another phase....I have been shopping. a lot. Some might say too much. See, here's the situation-all the pretty products that came out during Winter CHA are FINALLY arriving at online stores, and I can't stop myself. A few highlights of my ridiculously large order from Two Peas In A Bucket:

- Lawn Fawn stamps: this, this and oh yeah......this one.

Included in all that mess was a series of stamps created by Studio Calico and manufactured by Hero Arts. HA has always been one of my favorite stamp companies. I have more than a few of their stamps and I find myself using them over and over. They are fantastic quality and stamp nice and clean.

I had an idea of using Mr. Huey's to add bright colors over a white background. I used the butterfly and sentiment from this stamp set. I decided to play around with three different techniques for coloring the cards. They make a nice set, I think I might wrap them up together and give them to a friend. I linked up the exact products used at the bottom of this post.

Check them out all together:

Card #1:
I used a straw to drop ink down and blow it around to create this background. Very hard to predict how it would turn out, but so fun!

Card #2:
I used a paintbrush to paint inside the butterflies. I only used three colors, but I let them overlap to create the mixes.

Card #3:
(ummm, I had to take this one back outside for another picture-ha!) This one was easy peasy. I took scraps that I had practiced painting on, then punched a handful of hearts. I just arranged them in a rainbow-ish pattern and glued them down. Don't tell the other two but this one's my favorite.

A new blog has hit the streets- A Blog Named Hero. It's a challenge site dedicated to all things Hero Arts. SO far, it seems like a really fun site, and I created this little card set for their first challenge!
supplies: this stamp, Mr. Huey's - Piglet, Sunshine and Bonny Blue, Black StazOn Ink

Thanks for stopping by, talk to you soon! M.