Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 4th Treat

This post is super ill-timed, but I worry I'll forget about these little patriotic gems.  So you'll just have to put it under your hat for the next 359 days. 

In searching for a patriotic dessert to take to a July 4th party, my mom and I got overwhelmed with the influx of red white and blue this, red white and blue that.  I mean, I love a flag cake as much as the next girl, but can we agree that it is a bit hackneyed? 

So, I happened upon this site and immediately knew I had to recreate them.  Upon further searching, these avian confections are a little more ubiquitous than I thought (especially among Philadelphia Eagles fans), but I had never seen them before, and they were a huge hit at the party! 

The recipe is fairly simple.  Dip a marshmallow in melted white chocolate, then roll all but one side in shredded coconut.  Attach it to a chocolate covered oreo.  Let it harden a bit, and then insert a cashew for the beak and draw on eyes with black decorator gel. 

Disclaimer: To describe the taste in one word, I would say "sweet." Two words, "super sweet." Three, "overly super sweet." You get the drift, right?  They are a lot more about the looking and a lot less about the tasting. 

So save this post for the next year, and you'll be a huge hit at your July 4th party! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aloo Gobish

This week I'm a counselor for Camp Get Fit.  It's a grant-funded program aimed at educating 1st-6th graders about healthy lifestyles.  While I was a little apprehensive about working with younger kids, it's been great so far.  It's been a good refresher for me on things I can do to improve my health as well.

We watched a video about ways to include more fruits and veggies in your diet, and it inspired me to make this dish, aloo gobi (or potato and cauliflower curry).

I dabbled in Indian cooking in my PB (pre-blog) life, but I haven't picked up the garam masala in several years.  But after watching a student in the video talk about potato and cauliflower curry, I decided to get some supplies at the grocery yesterday.

It's safe to say my style of Indian cooking is non-traditional.  This is what I normally do:
Cut an onion and cook it in a pot in oil.  Get out a variety of spices and sprinkle some and dump some into the pot.  Let the spices cook.  Add in a liquid or two.  Then add in veggies to let them simmer until tender.

For this dish, my spices were garam masala, cumin, garlic powder, tumeric, coriander, and curry.  My liquids were coconut milk and tomato juice (last jar, weep!).  And my veggies, potato and cauliflower.  I think aloo gobi is normally served dry, but I decided to make it a little soupier and serve it over rice.

It came together really well.  At the end, I added some salt and lime juice just to brighten the flavors.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

One Fish, Two Fish, Pink Fish, Blue Fish

My friends Corrie and Michael are expecting a baby in November, and I volunteered to help with their gender reveal party.  Michael, resident fisherman, wanted to reel in a pink or blue fish from a lake.  I made the fish, and his friend (the only one with the inside info on the gender) attached the correct one to the pole and let Michael reel it in. 

I drew out the design on some leftover pieces of wood and then had them cut out with a jigsaw. 

Next came the painting.  I've been getting into painting more and more recently, and I've really been enjoying it.  After I was happy with the results, I sprayed each one with multiple (like 10) coats of clear water proof acrylic spray. 

Drilled holes in the mouths, attached a hook and a heavy sinker on each one so they wouldn't float. 

Here are C & M before the big moment. 

And the result.....


I'm thrilled for my friends and was so happy to be a part of their celebration. 

Annnnnnnd, not to self promote, but if anyone else is interested in a a fish-themed gender reveal party, I'm your girl. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Refashion: Can I Pull off a Romper?

The short answer, no. 
The long answer, see below.

I snagged these pants at the Bargain Barn last weekend, and my first thought was to turn them into a romper. I was inspired by Refashionista, who was, in turn, inspired by Lena Dunham.

So, I ripped out the pant leg seams from about the knees up, and then sewed them up the center to create a longer torso.  I tried it on with a belt, dice.  It was decidedly not becoming.  As you can see.  I fear my romper-wearing days may have ended at the age of three, not thirty-three.

So I scratched the romper plan and decided to go with a dress.  I ripped out the pant leg seams, sewed it straight down the center, and then took the sides in quite a bit.  I love the pairing with the loose belt. Perhaps cowboy boots as well!

Here's a nice before and after shot. 

Last Bulletin Board of the Year

"Nerd Humor"

My favorite - Snakes on a Plane (middle of the top row)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Back on the Blogging Bandwagon!

So April and May happened.  And apparently June is currently happening as well.  School has been out for a couple weeks, but I've still be busy finishing up the year and getting ready for the next one.  Patti Wagon living hasn't stopped; just the blogging took a respite.  I make no promises, but with summer, comes lots of free time, and there are only so many episodes of Mad Men / Game of Thrones / Arrested Development I can watch before I must peel myself off the couch and into the kitchen.

So what's been happening on this Patti Wagon? 

Book Club happened.  I chose The Round House by Louise Erdrich.  Good (not great, in my opinion) book about a Native American boy seeking revenge.  I chose a taco bar as the food.  Accouterments pictured below.  But honestly, the highlight of the evening was dessert -- Mexican popsicles from La Michocana.  It is dangerously close to my house. I might have to move. 

Jam happened.  As per the usual.  But it happened this year in copious amounts.  Twenty-three jars.  Perhaps I'll make it January before running out.  Here's last year's post if you're interesting into getting into the jam freezing.  Blueberry season is almost upon us! 

Fish happened.  My friend Michael (husband of blogger and teacher extraordinaire Corrie) is an avid fisherman, and I asked him to save me some bass from one of his fishing trips.  The reasons therein are manyfold. 
  • The idea of knowing exactly where every part of my meal came from.  (Who needs organic when you can have this?  But that's another post for another day.)
  • I always want to extend my skill set in the kitchen.  (I thought "fish gutting" would be a nice resume enhancer.)
  • I will never turn down free food, and in fact, I will seek it out.  (I think that'd actually be a good quote for my tombstone: "RIP Patricia ~ She never said no to free food.")
No pictures of the gutting, but here is a nice before and after shot.  I quickly marinated the filets in lime juice, herbs, olive oil, rice vinegar, and salt and pepper and then sauteed it on the stove.  Delicious!  Cheers to Michael for the fish and the lesson! 

Suddenly and Inexplicably Obsessed with Polyester

How awesome is this tank top?
  1. It's polyester.   Where have you been all my life, wonderful fabric?   And where can I find more of you?  I am completely serious.  Why do people have such disdain for polyester? 
  2. There is neither front nor back and neither tag nor vestige of tag.  To me, there is a certain exoticness to that mystery. 
  3. I'm not ashamed to admit I've worn it every day this week and just might wear it every day until July 4th.  It puts me in such a patriotic mood. 
  4. It cost 15 cents!  Thanks, BB! 

Executing a Vision in Lace

I have been envisioning this shirt refashion in my head for about as long as I've been refashioning.  I wanted a simple tank top in the front with a lace panel in the back.  I have a box of lace that belonged to my great-grandmother, and I love the idea of using it in projects.  That is, as opposed to just keeping it in a box at the top of my sewing closet. (Remember this gift wrap job?)

Lace?  Check.  Now onto the shirt.

Every time I went to the Bargain Barn, I would look (to no avail) for an appropriate shirt to adapt.  Lo and behold the perfect shirt was in my closet the whole time. 

Here is the before circa 2010.  Dark green.  Plain.  Boring.  And obviously in desperate need of a lace panel in the back!  (Hi Paige!  Remember this trap door bar in Croatia??)

And here is the after.  I took off the sleeves and cut out a big chunk of the back.  Then simply sewed the panel in with my sewing machine.  The most difficult part was figuring out a way to finish the edges of the straps and arm holes.  After several failed attempts, I used double layer seam binding, and it worked great. 

This is exactly how I envisioned the shirt, and I can't wait to show it off this summer!  (Bee tee dubs, the best part about sewing my own clothes?  Getting to answer the question, "Where did you get that shirt?" with "Oh, this? I made it." Even if I have to fish for the question!) 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pizza Lasagna

Is this a thing?  Because if not, it certainly needs to be.  To answer your first question, yes, I am still on my pizza bender.  And to answer your next question, no, I don't feel bad about it.  Don't you remember learning in school that pizza is the healthiest food because it contains all food groups? 

I knew I wanted to make a lasagna this weekend.  Other than feeling rather Garfield-esque on my four-day weekend, I've been wanting to do something new with homemade pasta.  Now the genius really set in when I noticed that my modicum of Italian sausage was not going to be enough meat to cover a layer of the gigantic pan I chose (WHY?) for my lasagna.  Lightbulb!  As a current pizza addict, I can now always be counted on to have a bag of pepperoni in the fridge. 

So the verdict?  It's very good.  Definitely more lasagna-y than pizza-y.  But that can always be doctored in the future.  So if it wasn't a thing before, it now is.  Pizza Lasagna.  Trademark it.  Boom!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

German Breakfast 101

One of my favorite meals has to be traditional German breakfast. While most of that is probably caught up in the memories that surround my German breakfasts, it really is an extraordinary meal.

My German II students have a unit on traditional German mealtimes, and I like to devote most of that to German breakfasts.  We always eat a German breakfast at the end.  I turn my classroom into a restaurant, and I grade them on their etiquette.  Most of my students rarely eat a meal at a table with others, so I use this as a teachable moment.  (Tragic, I know.)  They wait until all have been served to start eating.  They have pleasant conversation with their dining companions.  They eat German style.  Left hand (not elbow) on the table at all times.  And they love it.  And most of them love the food too. 

So what exactly comprises a traditional German breakfast? 

The cornerstone is das Brot. You will receive a basket of various rolls (Brötchen), warmed in the oven. 

You take one, slice it open, and always, I repeat always, start off with a thick spreading of butter. 

Do not, under any circumstances, use margarine. You must use real butter, and you must use a lot. I use European-style butter. It is creamier (see also: fattening) than American-style. 

Next, up you can get creative. If you want to go a savory route, add a slice of Käse or Wurst, or better yet, both. You will need several kinds of both Käse (Gouda, Emmenthaler, Brie, perhaps) and Wurst (Prosciutto, Salami, ham, perhaps) to try. 

So you have enjoyed your 1/2 Brötchen with toppings, and now you're ready for something else.

That is what is so wonderful about a German breakfast. You enjoyed that? Awesome, do it again. Not so much, go a different route this time. Perhaps something sweet? Try a Konfitüre. If you're lucky, they'll have red currant.

Nutella? Honey? Quark? It's all there too. (Quark is a spreadable cheese that can either go savory or sweet, depending on toppings. Think cream cheese mixed with ricotta cheese mixed with yogurt.)
Need a break from all the bread? It's time to eat your boiled Ei. Serve as such: 

Müsli and Joghurt will also be available

If you want to have a real Schlemmerfrühstück (gourmet breakfast), you'll need Fleischsalat or KrabbensalatFleischsalat is made with bologna, mayo, and pickles. Krabbensalat with crabmeat, mayo, and pickles. Might sound not so hot, but on the vessel of the delicious German bread, anything can be good, and these two salads do not disappoint. 

To drink, KaffeeTeeOrangensaft, and if you're lucky, Sekt

And there you have ein traditionelles deutsches Frühstück. 

Guten Appetit! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Window Treatments a la Pattiwagon

I don't have any experience making curtains, but I have become a somewhat accomplished seamstress in the past year, and I have some great equipment.  So I didn't hesitate when my friend Jackie asked me to make curtains and some other decor for her nursery.  (After all, it was really for Bates.  And who wouldn't want to do something sweet for such a sweet boy?  Check out pictures on Jackie's blog.  You will melt.)  Curtain making was basically a lesson in precise measuring, clean cutting, and straight sewing.  Three things I can always practice.  It also gave me something to do during March Madness  Sadness.

I was happy with how they turned out.  So happy that I think I'll have to work on my own window treatments.  As Casa de Pattiwagon is sorely lacking in that department. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bring on the Bargain Barn

I made my second ever trip to Goodwill's Bargain Barn yesterday and came home plus a sack full of clothes and minus $6.90. I documented my first trip here. After scrapping the button-down shirt into dress project I mentioned there, I needed some redemption on the refashioning. 

Eschewing the skeleton costume (Know I'll regret that one!), I opted for more wearable items to work on. 

I started out with this shirt. (I think it's a shirt at least?) It was enormous, offered no shape, and had weird vertical seams and a drawstring bottom. But I liked the pattern, so I wanted to see what I could do. 

After taking in the sides about 10 inches, taking out the white vertical seam and drawstring bottom, I ended up with this:

I'm very happy with the results. Imagine a big smile on my perfectly made up face in the photo above. (Also imagine my perfectly coifed hair. Ahem.)

Here's a preview of tomorrow's project. Pepto pants, anyone? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tomorrow's To Do List

1. Sourdough pancakes
2. Run
3. Bargain Barn! 
4. "Nerd Jokes" bulletin board
5. Finish midterm grading (blech!)
6. Curtain date with Jackie
7. College basketball
8. Work on painting

Yep, it's Spring Break!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Milk Jam 2K13

I received this book for recently, and I immediately knew it was right up my alley.  It's the kind of cookbook I dream of writing one day.  It has tons of recipes for preserving food, and then "real food" recipes using all the preserves.  It's categorized by seasons, which I love.  Obviously the winter recipes are a little sparse.  Needing to whet my canning appetite, I chose milk jam as the recipe of the day yesterday.  (I'll save Preserved Porcini Mushrooms for later.)

It's milk and it's jam. What's not to love? Not convinced? 

Now?  Thought so.  I am most intrigued by its use in coffee.  I've been drinking cold-drip coffee syrup mixed with water lately, and with the milk jam, I can envision the cafe con leche of my dreams. 

I set out to make it about 5PM last night.  We've been here before.  I boiled the milk, heavy cream, and sugar for two hours, as the recipe stated.  I set up all my canning supplies.  At this point, about 7:30, I'm feeling really good about my prospects of finishing the project at a decent hour. (And by the way, I had bread dough and pizza crust going as well.)  Do others engage in this behavior?  Just wondering. 

I put everything in the canner, seal it, and wait patiently for the pressure to rise.  (The recipe explicitly states to use a pressure canner.)  It rises.  To 1psi.  The recipe calls for 10psi.  An inordinate amount of steam is escaping from the lid.  Clearly I need a new gasket.  And a new gasket I do not have.

So I scrap the canning, put the jars in the fridge, and hope that perhaps a gasket will appear on my doorstep while I sleep.  

As that didn't happen, I went to the hardware store today and bought a new one and installed it in about 30 seconds.  Who knew how easy that was?  Aunt Jane, I'm looking at you. 

I pour all of the jars back into a pot today, heat up the milk jam, wash my jars, and start the process over. 

Canning was successful, but the milk jam came out a lot more like milk and a lot less like jam.  I'm not sure if this is right, but next time I want to cook it down further before canning.  I had a bit of extra that I left out of the canner and let cook on the stove. It turned into a perfect dulce de leche, which I spread over a piece of toast for a perfect Monday evening dessert.