Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CBTL Caffitaly Americano machine

I just bought this beautiful $149  machine from someone on Craigslist last week for $50!  See it sitting next to my Breville espresso machine?  Shhhhh.  I don't want them to start fighting, but I'm really liking the CBTL (Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) machine right now.  It's so easy to use, easy to clean up, and so convenient.   I've even learned how to reuse the espresso capsules, which bring my cost per drink down from $0.70 to $0.14!  I have also been toying with a DIY version of the milk capsules that Tassimo and Verismo use.  OMG, so easy and also about $0.14 per serving versus the $1.00 that the capsules cost retail.   To make the milk, I dispense a short shot and a long shot of water into my mug (without an espresso capsule in the machine) and add 2 tablespoons of dry milk powder.  I found the Nido brand at my Walmart,  which is dry whole milk rather than some other brands,  which are dry non-fat milk.  Using my Aerolatte frothing wand, I mix it until a nice thick froth forms and the volume appears doubled.  I then insert an espresso capsule into the machine and brew a long shot into the same mug.  Isn't it beautiful?   I still prefer fresh milk but am finding that the dry milk doesn't bother my tummy like fresh.   Lactose intolerant,  you know.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Folded fabric Christmas ornaments

My friend found a YouTube video for these : Folded fabric Christmas ornaments.  Since I'm making several for gifts, I thought I'd simplify the process.  I'm also embroidering the year on them.  I attached a pin to the end of my machine bed which, surprisingly enough, was the perfect place to give me a 7" finished circle as it's 3.5" from my needle.  I only had to adjust my needle position to 4.0.  For topstitching, I place the circle back on the pin once it's been turned right side out and adjusted the needle to the far left at 0.0.  I then turned to my embroidery machine for the addition of the date.  I followed the rest of the instructions on the video.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

No Chemex? No probem!

So,  what do you do when you want coffee and don't have a Chemex handy?  You grab a canning funnel, a cloth Chemex filter here, and a thermal carafe.  So good.  So simple.  I just saved you $50 on a Chemex, or $120 on the Keurig 2.0.  Ok.  Not as visually appealing as a Chemex, I admit.  The coffee does stay hot for hours!  Especially if you preheat the carafe.

No carafe?  A Mason jar works!  Put a cozy on it and then the lid to keep the heat in.

I can see the Mason jar coffee maker on a road trip.  I know I won't be traveling with my Chemex.   No more crappy hotel room coffee (you're good as long as you have a way to make hot water).  Pack all your supplies inside the jar and you're good to go!

I admit that a quart of coffee only fills my husband's monster cup and my measly 10 oz cup so I don't need to worry about keeping it hot unless I'm home alone.

Good coffee does NOT require any fancy equipment.  People all over the world make coffee with much less.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Viva Las Arepas

I've been wanting to try Viva Las Arepas ever since reading about it on Yelp but never got a chance until yesterday.  David and I were looking for somewhere different to eat and I suggested this place since it wasn't far from where we were.  It's on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Oakey, near the Stratosphere Hotel.

In case you don't know what arepas are, they're kind of like a Venezuelan sandwich.  They also have pork spareribs, chicken, and beef, which I assume are cooked over a wood flame, since the place smells of wood and there are logs stacked in the hallway.  Here's what we ordered:  Garlic Shrimp, Vegetarian, Reina Pepiada (cold chicken salad), Carne Asada, and an order of fried yuca and chicharron.  It was too much food but we couldn't decide what to order.  The tab was $35 for the two of us.

Chemex cozy and reusable cloth Chemex filters!

I love my friend, David!  He's here visiting and I mentioned to him that the only coffee filter I haven't been able to make successfully is a Chemex filter.  Why?  Because I didn't have a Chemex coffee maker to test my prototypes on.  While I was at knit nite last week, David went next door to Cost Plus World Market and bought me one!  It is the CM-8A, 8 cup, 40 oz model.  I have since made 3 types of filters that work very, very well.  One is the square, one is the circle, and the last is another square but it is prefolded and seamed up one side.  I must say that I prefer the unfolded circle and unfolded square.  They work exactly the same way as the Chemex filter in that you have to fold them into quarters, place the 3 layered side against the spout and the single layer opposite.  They are very easy to clean.  I think I'll be offering them for sale in my Etsy shop and on Ebay very soon.

I also wanted to make a cozy for my new Chemex to try and retain some heat in the leftover coffee.  I didn't want to put it on the stove or a warmer.  It was a fun afternoon project to make this fleece cozy and cap.  It gave me an opportunity to dust off my math skills.  I measured the diameter of the top opening at just under 6 inches.  That measurement worked well with the bottom of the carafe as well.  Since the diameter of the circle I needed was 6 inches, I had to calculate the circumference for the pieces that went around those circles.  C=2 X 3.14 (Pi) X 3 (radius), which worked out to just under 19 inches.   The sides of the bottom pieces were 19" X 8" and the sides of the cap were 19" X 3".  I used two layers of fleece and one layer of thermal insulated batting for the body and the cap.  I also used elastic on the bottom to cinch it up.  

I think it turned out so cute but after we all had a cup of coffee there wasn't much left to check out its heat retention abilities.  I may just have to make another set in a Japanese print. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup #2. Feels like I cheated, it's so easy!

Quick Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup

6 cups water
4 tsp chicken bouillion (or more to taste)
1 pkg frozen broccoli florets & stems
1 carrot, julienned
1 stalk celery, diced
1 can Campbell's cheddar cheese soup
1 can Campbell's Chunky Chicken Cheddar Broccoli soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese blend
Pepper to taste
3 tsp butter
4 tsp flour

In a large pot, bring water & bouillion to a boil and add veggies.  Cook until tender.  In separate small pot, create a light roux by melting butter then adding flour and cook a few minutes, stirring constantly, but do not let it darken.  Add 3 cups of the broth from the veggies to the roux and stir until smooth before pouring into large pot.  Add the two cans of soup & pepper.  Using an immersion blender, puree veggies but stop when it reaches desired consistency.  I like mine more pureed than chunky.   Stir in shredded cheese until melted.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goodbye, my Sam

I'm beyond heartbroken.  My Samantha passed away last week.  It was very unexpected and sudden.  She was here one day and gone the next.  For that I am very grateful.  I would not have wanted her to suffer.  We still don't know the cause as she slipped away so fast and at that point extensive testing would have caused her undue discomfort.  She was such a sweet and loving girl, who gave us so much joy in her 12 years with us.  I know she felt loved everyday.

Broccoli cheese soup

I love broccoli cheese soup but never made it because I thought it was hard...until today.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked promising from this blog

I pretty much followed it except that I added chicken bouillon to my veggie stock because it was too bland and the only other spices I used were pepper, garlic and onion powders.  I used one handful of shredded Mexican cheese blend and one handful of sharp Cheddar cheese.

32 oz vegetable broth
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped including stems (peel stem if very fibrous)
1 cup shredded or diced carrots
1 diced small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp chicken bouillon

In large pot (5-6 qt.), add all above ingredients and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy.

In a small saucepan, make roux by melting 4 Tbsp butter and whisking in 4 Tbsp flour until completely blended and just barely turns darker.  Remove from heat.

To the roux, add 2 cups of the broth from the veggies and whisk until smooth.  Add mixture back into veggie/broth pot and bring to a low boil to thicken soup.

To the pot add 1 cup heavy cream and heat through.  Lower heat and finally add 1 handful of shredded sharp Cheddar and 1 handful of shredded Mexican blend cheese.  Make sure that you don't bring to a boil after cheese is added.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mason Jar Coffee Maker...and Mason Jar Tea Maker...and Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate Maker!

I don't know why this has become my obsession today but I just Googled "mason jar coffee maker" and some of the results were hilarious and not only expensive but downright unnecessary.  You can easily use a Melitta one cup pour over, sit it atop your mason jar and make an easy couple of cups.  I wanted to create something that was a cross between a pour over and my usual immersion filter but minus the chopsticks.  This is the final result.  I did not invent this idea, just the filter and the cozy.  I really like it!  Don't know how often I'd use it, given my large collection of coffee/tea making paraphernalia, but still like it.

1)  Insert the filter and fold over the edge of the jar.  If you notice in a few of the pictures, the filter is a bit short, that's because I was testing this with my reusable cone filters.  They work but I wanted more immersion of the grounds so I created a longer, more snugly fit, filter. 

2) Screw on the ring securely.  This also helps to stop the wicking of fluid and keeps it from dripping on the outside of the jar.

3) Add your ground coffee.  Pour your hot water over the grounds.  You don't have to do any special pouring method since the grounds will be immersed, it doesn't matter.

4) Let sit for a couple of minutes for full extraction.

5) Carefully unscrew lid and remove filter.  The lid and jar will be HOT!  It's nice that the outside edges of the filter are still dry so you can pick up the hot, wet filter and put into a nearby cup to cool before tossing the contents.  Enjoy your coffee!

The jar got so hot that I had to crochet a cozy for it so as not to burn my hands.  Just adds to the cuteness factor while being totally functional!

Oh!  It also works with my Keurig just in case I don't have any K Cups available.  You can make tea the exact same way. 

You can also make a small batch of cold brewed coffee concentrate this way as well.  This is a 1 qt jar so I'd use about a cup of coffee and fill the jar as full as possible with cool water.  Put the lid on as well as the ring.  Let sit 12-15 hours then lift out the filter, allowing the coffee to drip while squeezing lightly.  Remember that the coffee grounds absorb a lot of the water so you won't have a full quart of concentrate when you're done.  Toss the used grounds into your compost/trash.  Refrigerate your concentrate and use within 2 weeks.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stone Wave Bread Pudding

I just bought this Stone Wave microwave cooker yesterday at Walmart after watching a demo on QVC.  This morning I made my husband a ham & cheese omelet.  It must have been edible because he didn't complain.  This afternoon I was wondering how to make bread pudding in this cooker and came up with this easy recipe:

1 egg, beaten well
1/4 cup milk
Dash vanilla extract
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp raisins
2 hot dog buns (because that's the only bread I had), torn into small pieces

In the Stone Wave, mix first 4 ingredients well.  Add raisins and buns, wetting buns completely.  Cover and cook for 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn over, cover and cook 1 minute more.

These are approximate times as all microwaves are a bit different.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Poor girl's Chemex

I can't remember where I saw the link to the Pour Mason, which is a pour-over coffee system based upon the Chemex coffee maker.  At the time that I found this link, I was testing some prototypes of cloth Chemex filters at the request of someone on Etsy.  Chemex filters are something I do not currently carry in my Etsy shop because I've never actually seen or used a Chemex and didn't know anything about them other than the way they look.  Anyway, I was playing around with a few different styles of cloth filters and remembered the Pour Mason.  I keep mason jars around the house all the time.  My husband and son love to drink out of them daily and I use them for salads-in-jars.  The first filters I tried worked in the funnel because the opening is small.  When I tried them in my wide mouth canning funnel, to replicate an actual Chemex, they slid right through the hole if I was only brewing a single cup, but stayed put if I was brewing 3-4 cups.  I only have plastic funnels and was afraid of a plastic taste to the coffee.  I gave the brew to my husband, who didn't complain about such a taste.  I probably won't be doing this again since I have a Melitta pour over, and my own full immersion filter system, which already work with mason jars, but it was fun to try.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stethoscope Cover

stethoscope cover
Originally uploaded by mrhodes702.

I made this stethoscope cover for my sister, Gina. I have been making her (and her co-workers) all different types of covers over the years, mainly knitted ones. I wanted to do this one because I'm just getting used to my embroidery machine and thought it might be nice to personalize her cover. I saw a cover on Etsy that uses minky on one side and I happen to have a small piece left over from a baby blanket. I will still put her name on it. She can't wait to get them! Before I forget, Here are my notes:

2 pcs - 4 1/2" x 25" for body
2 pcs - 4 1/2" x 3" for interfacing (same fabric as body)
1 pc - 4 1/2" x 4" for tab
1 pc - 3" length of 1/4" elastic
1 snap set

I serged most of the cover except for making the tab, sewing the casing for the elastic, and the top stitching around the top of the cover. 

First off, I embroidered her name on one body piece.  Then I made the tab by folding each 4" side towards the middle, pressed, unfolded, folded 1/2" up from one 4 1/2" side then both pressed sides toward the middle.  Sew along 2 long sides and one short side.  Sandwich the tab between the front piece and one interfacing piece, right sides facing, along a short side and sew.  Sew the 2nd interfacting piece to the 2nd body piece, right sides facing, along a short side.  Now this part might be confusing:  Lift up the interfacing pieces so you have two long flat pieces and, with right sides facing, seam along one long side.  Now make the casing for the elastic by folding up 1/2" on the other short side and press.  Sew with a 3/8" seam allowance.  Thread elastic into casing using a safety pin.  As soon as the non pinned end enters the casing, tack it down so it doesn't get sucked into the casing.  As soon as the pinned end exits the casing, tack it down so it doesn't get sucked back into the casing.  Sew the remaining long edge, turn right side out and tuck the interfacing down into the body and top stitch 1/8" from the edge.  Add one side of the snap set to the end of the tab, centering it.  Add the other side of the snap, so that it corresponds to the tab, on the body.  Finis!

I'm still playing around with the construction. I don't know if the tab is absolutely necessary. I may just forgo the tab on the next one and just add the snap set to the top of the cover. We shall see!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Knitted & crocheted donut bun maker

Knitted & crocheted bun makers
Originally uploaded by mrhodes702.

Worsted weight yarn. Donuts shown were made in Red Heart yarn. Use a color that best matches your hair.

Size US8 needles. CO 28 sts. Join and knit in the round for 10". Bind off, roll down with stockinette side showing, sew bound off edge to body matching stitch for stitch all the way around.

To make a larger diameter, just cast on more stitches. To make a fatter donut, work more rows.

The bun maker on the right was crocheted. I used an H size hook and chained 28 sts. Slip stitch to join in a circle, being careful not to twist the chain. Ch 2 and work a dc in each remaining chain. End each round by slip stitching into the top chain of the starting ch2. Work 20-30 rounds in DC.  Occasionally, you can roll the tube down to see if you want all 30 rows.  Stop whenever you like the size of it.  End off and roll into a donut shape. Sew top edge of last row to body of donut matching stitch for stitch all the way around.

I use the screw type hair pin to secure the bun to my head.  I typically use three.  They're made by Goody and sold in practically any drug store.  One of the biggest benefits of using these knitted or crocheted bun makers over a sock bun is that they have natural holes into which you can insert hair pins and I feel it's much more secure this way.

To learn how to style your hair using a bun maker or bun donut, go to www.YouTube.com and search "sock bun" or "bun donut".  There are several videos to choose from.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beginning sock knitting

I knitted my first pair of socks in 1999.  I found I disliked double pointed needles (love them now) and moved on to do the Magic Loop method then the 2 circular method (a la Cat Bordhi).  I prefer Magic Loop for socks rather than 2 circs for many reasons, but primarily because it's cheaper than having 2 circs in several sizes available at the same time and not hung up in another project. 
Someone on a FB knitting page was having a hard time learning to make socks and I was reminded of the site that helped me tremendously in those early days.  I had to go to the Wayback Machine  to find it.  Here is the link.  Full of helpful pictures all along the way.  I don't make socks like this anymore as I prefer toe up, but it's a great way to learn the anatomy of a sock.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Quick card

Made this quick card for a friend who is going through a hard time.  I hope this lifts her spirits!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

No worry beef curry!

That's just something we say in Hawaii, kind of like "don't sweat the small stuff".  Tonight's dinner is beef curry made with a chuck roast, Japanese S&B curry in  medium hot, & typical curry veg: onions, carrots, potatoes & celery.  Missing was the bell pepper.  I've been craving this for days!  Time to get my grind on!

Great! I'm not just getting "old"...I have fibromyalgia!

I'm 48 years old.  It doesn't bother me to say it or to be it.  It is what it is.  My kids love telling me that I'm OLD.  If I didn't color my hair, I'd be completely grey, like my daddy, who was not only grey, but white in his early 40's.  No one knows when my mom would have been completely grey or what her exact natural hair color was, as she has been Loreal's Dark Auburn for as long as I remember.  God, please make Loreal discontinue Dark Auburn.  It is a rather unnatural color and doesn't appear anywhere in nature other than in a sunset, but I digress.

All of those aches and pains I've been suffering on and off for a couple of years made me truly believe what my kids were saying.  Getting old sucks!  I just tried to accept it and deal with it.  Finally, last week I decided to go see my GP just for shits and giggles.  I actually told him when he walked into the examining room that I didn't know why I was there and that he probably couldn't help me.  He asked me questions, gently poked and prodded, and said, "You have fibromyalgia".  I almost burst out laughing because all I knew about fibromyalgia is that you hurt all over.  My husband and I have been joking for a couple of months because after watching me walk painfully after getting out of my chair I exclaimed one night that I must have fibromyalgia, haha.  I was somehow relieved that there is a reason for my pain and it's not just me getting old.  He put me on a combination of vitamins and minerals plus something called Tangy Tangerine that I had to buy from Amazon.com to see if that would help and wants to see me back in 6 weeks.  I'm not relieved to have fibromyalgia.  It sucks like an open chest wound.  Especially what happened next.  The very next day I was in so much pain from my left shoulder that I really wanted to die.  You would just not believe how many movements you make involve your shoulder!  That was on Sunday.  Aleve didn't touch the pain, 800 mg of Motrin didn't touch it and I was looking through my husband's mini pharmacy for some oxycodone but didn't find any.  By 5:30 am on Tuesday I had had enough.  Three days without sleep and I was in tears.  I begged him to take me to the ER.  Did I tell you that my husband doesn't believe in fibromyalgia?  He doesn't have a clue!  Luckily, at that time of the morning I was the only one in the waiting room so I was taken back and immediately given IV morphine.  I was in heaven!  After 5 hours there I was sent home with prescriptions for oxycodone, Motrin 600 mg, and I think doxepine for sleep (which I didn't need, thankfully).  I mostly slept for the next two days.  I finally felt more like myself on Friday and feel pretty great today.  I made an appointment to see my doctor again on Wednesday because I wanted him to know what happened.  He said that after 6 weeks on the supplements, if they didn't help he'd prescribe a pharmaceutical for treatment.  I think the options are something like Lyrica, Cymbalta, or Savella.  We shall see!  I also made sure that my husband's appointment coincides with mine so our doctor can tell him that yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as fibromyalgia!  Argh!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Steep and Go Cold Brew Tea Infuser

I'm not sure what I was looking for when I happened upon the website for the Steep & Go but it was so compelling that I had to have one.  It is a way to cold brew loose leaf green & white teas and be able to take them on the go.  It's really simple.  You buy a bottle of water (they list brands it fits although it comes with an adapter so I assume it will fit those not listed), add your loose tea to the bottle, insert the Steep & Go, shake to mix leaves, & wait 10 minutes before drinking.  I like to add a squirt of agave, too! Surprisingly, I prefer the taste of 1 tsp of tea for a whole liter of water.  I tried it with 2 tsps at first but it tasted a bit bitter to me.  The filter keeps the tea from getting into your mouth while drinking (even the tiny ones).  I have infused the same leaves multiple times and am pleased with the way it works.  It is BPA free, dishwasher safe, and at $6.95 is very reasonable.

Before I got this, I used one of my son's sport water bottles with a wide mouth, dropped two green tea bags into it, a bit of agave, and filled with water.  I put it into the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes and it was ready to drink.  As I got close to empty, I just refilled with more water and set it back into the fridge.  I think I infused the same bags at least 3 times before I threw them away.

Cold brewing tea is a really great way to make delicate green and white teas.  When I first got into teas, I complained to my tea purveyor that I didn't like green teas because they tasted "fishy".  She couldn't tell me what I was doing wrong.  I figured out that I was trying to brew them at too high a temperature.  I was still convinced that they weren't my favorites until recently.  With all of the wonderful loose leaf teas that I have, I preferred the taste of Lipton Green Tea with Superfruit.  It is still my go-to green tea. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Flowers from my youngest son.  Love both boys so much!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bisquick 7 Up Biscuits

Oh my!  I am such a sucker for a good biscuit and have made a few that I thought were good but this one knocks them all down.  The ingredients are very surprising.  My friend, Steph, told me about these today.  A recipe she saw on Pinterest by plainchicken.com. 

Bisquick 7Up Biscuits

2 c. Bisquick
1/2 c. Sour cream
1/2 c. 7 Up
1/4 c. Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  I also preheated my cast iron skillet but the recipe doesn't use one of these.  Stir sour cream into Bisquick then add 7 Up and stir until well mixed.  The batter will be very soft.  The recipe says to flour your board with more Bisquick and pat out the dough then cut out biscuits but I didn't do that either.  I took my hot skillet out of the oven and melted my butter in it.  Then I used a large ice cream scoop and dropped the dough onto the butter.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  This made 8 biscuits.