Archive | July, 2011

Kitchen Benches – Part I

30 Jul

We have a very small kitchen in a very small duplex. The only complaint we have is the lack of storage in the kitchen  – we decided to create our own and hopefully be able to host 4 people comfortably at our table. Nate and I started to dream about how to do this. Should we make a cabinet, benches, or boxes? There are so many ideas and not a lot of space.

In the end we went with the benches. The house I grew up in had benches in the kitchen with TONS of storage underneath. I loved those benches, they where comfortable and when I ate at them I felt like I a roman goddess getting to eat while reclined. Which is probably why Mom & Dad always ended up sitting on the benches before us kids could.

Here is where we are going to put the benches:

All of the wood pictured here we got for free from Nate’s employment: (holler!)

I spent this past Friday staining about half of that including the 100 1×2 slats….

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore has a great selection of stains and paints, so for $2 I got this sweet “Golden Oak” stain. I like it a lot!

And on Saturday, after drilling, sanding, staining, and checking measurements for hours all we got was this little preview:

But I love it already. Its going to be awesome to have storage and seating for more than just two! 🙂

Craft Room Chair

29 Jul

For a while now, if I wanted to sew or journal at my desk in my craft room, I would drag one of my kitchen chairs into the room. This was starting to get annoying to me, because 1. it was extra work 2. the chair didn’t match my craft room design & 3. I kept hitting the chair in the door frame.( Fact: I am Klutz)

So I went thrifting for a new chair last weekend, and ended up getting this baby for $2.50. OH YEAH!

BEFORE:

The first thing I did was sand some rough spots, and then painted it an off white – instead of a yellow white.

And then I had to put on a new cushion:

THE AFTER:

And that was all! Took me about an hour of work to get this:


 Yes this is my messy craft room, and my half finished shirt on my lovely body form (her name is Mandy – the body form, not the shirt).

Blackberry Ice Cream

28 Jul

There is a local fruit stand less than a mile from my house, and they have not only great food but great prices. This last week I splurged and got a quart of Blackberries for the Hubby for only $4.50.  He couldn’t eat them fast enough and they were so ripe, they melted the minute you put them into your mouth.

So we decided to make some ice cream from them. We chose the classic Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Ice Cream recipe, and it was AMAZING!

Ingredients

  • 2 pints Fresh Blackberries
  • 1/2 whole Juiced Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 5 whole Egg Yolks
  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream

Preparation Instructions

Add blackberries to a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain using a fine mesh strainer, pressing berries to extract as much juice/puree as possible. Set aside.

Heat half-and-half and 1 cup sugar in a separate saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.

Beat egg yolks by hand or with an electric mixer until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thick. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling into the 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over low to medium-low heat (depending on how hot your stove gets) until quite thick, stirring constantly.

Add heavy cream to a separate bowl. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add blackberry juice/puree to the cream/custard mixture and stir.

Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker until thick. Place container in freezer to harden for an additional two hours.

Evil variation: Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chunks before freezing. Delicious! * RECOMMENDED!*

Here are some pictures from the process:

Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream

Mixing the Custard and the Juice

After 30 min in the ice cream maker 🙂

And then after a night in the freezer and added chocolate chips, there is this AMAZING creation (and I don’t really like blackberries, but I LOVED this!):

Yummm!

Our New Tool – Kreg Jig Jr.

26 Jul

If you haven’t heard of the Kreg Jig tool, and you are into woodworking, than you must live under a rock.The Kreg (as we call it) helps to drill pocket holes into wood that make joints stronger and screws less noticeable. (and yes that is woman description of the tool)

Kreg Jig = Love

Nate and I have been wanting a Kreg for a while now. But at $42 (and it needs special screws) – its a little bit costly.

So be finally bit the screw bullet, and bought a Kreg Jig Jr.

In case you are wondering how the Kreg Jig works, check out their sweet promo video:

Here are a couple pictures from the first use:

The first holes

Isn't it pretty?

So whats your favorite tool to use? Or whats on your tool wish list?

Weekend Re-Cap

25 Jul

What a busy weekend! We have a big kitchen nook/bench project going on right now, plus finishing up a few other projects – we were so busy this weekend.

Here are a few things that we worked on this weekend: (details to come later this week!)

Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream

Craft Room Chair Re-Do

Playing with our new tool!

Lots of Staining

Big Joann's Shopping Trip for Kitchen Benches

How was your weekend? I hope you stayed cool!

Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce Part II – (FAIL)

23 Jul

Ok. So my plan was to make lots of sauce and can at least two jars to use at a later time…. That didn’t happen.

16 tomatoes only made enough for a family of four. FYI!

This post was supposed to be about canning, and its not. It is just a review of the pasta sauce. So if you want enought to can, make sure to use LOTS of tomatoes, like at least 40.

This was a delicious and very different pasta sauce. It was lighter and thinner and less salty that store bought. But over all I liked it, next time I would try de-seeding the tomatoes and adding a teaspoon on corn starch (at least). And oh yeah, use LOTS OF TOMATOES.

If you missed the recipe see click here.

Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce (Part I)

21 Jul

As I have mentioned before, I am part of a CSA this year and get tons of fresh produce from the local farmers market each week. This week my farmer had lots of tomatoes that were over ripe and he couldn’t sell, so he was letting the CSA people take as many as they wanted. I am not one to waste food, so I took a fair number (and note this is not all that I took since we are splitting the CSA with one of our friends!).

I have never made any kind of homemade tomato sauce, ever. So I did some research and started out on the adventure!(p.s. this part one only took me 50 minutes too, which is kinda long, but not too bad!)

For this recipe I based mine off of this one from allrecipes. Mine is a bit different- and much spicier. And I used 16 random heirloom tomatoes for this meal, but you can totally alter this recipe to fit how ever many tomatoes you have – just be sure you can fit them in the crock-pot!

STEP 1: Peel the Tomatoes

This is fairly easy and dare I say, fun?

Take out the stems and score an X on the bottom of the tomatoes.

Then put them into a pot of boiling water – I did 4 at a time and this worked out great!

Let them stay in for a minute or until the skin starts to wrinkle a bit. Then take them out and put them into an ice bath for another minute.

Take out and start peeling by pulling at the corners on the bottom where you put the X. They should come off very easily.

Now that hard part is done! I felt so accomplished after all of this!

STEP 2: Mix everything in a crockpot

Many other recipes say to remove seeds, chop, and crush the tomatoes at this point. I didn’t do that, because 1) to de-seed 16 tomatoes is a lot of work and 2) I don’t have something to crush them with. So all I did was Chop the tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients.

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil ( or fresh!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

And here is the the product:

Now let this simmer in the crock pot for 10-15 hours.

And that’s the end of Part I! Stay tuned for Part II – the review of this method/recipe and  the canning experience.