Happy Easter everyone! It’s sunny and warm here in the Pacific Northwest. Just another reminder of how much I love this place. Hope you all got to make a ton of Easter eggs this weekend. I made a dozen yesterday using brown eggs and chalk markers. These turned out spectacular! I cannot take credit for this idea, however. I totally borrowed it from the lovely folks over at We Can Make Anything. Go check out their post on Non Toxic Easter Eggs. Thank you M.E. and Heather!
Have a swell weekend everyone.
Growing up in the Philippines and being raised by a single dad, I didn’t really get to celebrate Easter very much. Last year I got a kick out of dip-dyeing eggs for the first time (much to Breezy’s amusement) using regular food dyes. This year I wanted to try something that I’ve seen on Pinterest which involves using natural pigments from vegetables and spices. I had turmeric, a few beets that have started to soften in my crisper and some frozen blueberries. Beets make red, turmeric makes yellow and the blueberries make purple. The result were Easter eggs in beautiful pastel shades. And the process is really simple:
Cut them up in pieces and boil them in about 2 cups of water
Use about a tablespoon and boil in 2 cups of water
Use about a cup of blueberries per 2 cups of water.
Strain each mixture into a bowl or mug and let cool to room temperature. Then add about 2 tablespoons of vinegar per cup of mixture. Begin dip dyeing your eggs. For richer color, let the egg stay submerged longer until you get the desired shade. I heard you can also leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
Super fun! Here are some other colors that you can try (for next year):
Violet Blue – Red Onions Skins, Red Wine
Blue – Red Cabbage Leaves
Green – Spinach Leaves
Greenish Yellow – Yellow Apple Peels
Golden Brown – Dill Seeds
Brown – Coffee or Black Tea
Orange – Yellow Onion Skins or Paprika
I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!
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Last week our friends Nicole and Matt invited us over to brew beer. Matt has been brewing his own beer for a while now and has all the necessary equipment and knowledge to do it, so I jumped at the opportunity for a free crash course. I’ve always been curious of the process, and it sounded like a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I was mostly observing at this point, and occasionally jumping in to assist (like “smacking” the yeast and things of that sort), but for the most part we let Matt take the lead, lest we screw up and ruin the entire batch. Beer making takes almost an entire day (and that’s just the brewing part, after that it stays in a fermentation chamber for about 2 months), and involves precise temperatures, timing, and the exact amount of ingredients. And much like canning, every piece of equipment has to be sterilized thoroughly to prevent any unwanted bacteria growth. On the menu for brew day was the Dusseldorf Altbier. It is a bronze-to-copper colored German ale with a rich malt character, substantial hop bitterness and a notable noble hop aroma. Mmm! Sounds delicious, no?
We made a trip to Bob’s Homebrew Supply to get the necessary ingredients: Malt extracts, three types of grains, hops and yeasts. There was a whole lot of brewer lingo going on between the store owners and the customers, and even if I had no idea what they were talking about it was fun just checking things out. And the place smelled good!
The brewing process took place out on the deck on a nice clear (albeit cold) day. I tried my best to document the process with my phone camera, but I don’t think I can even begin to explain it in detail. Not that I don’t want to but because I can’t remember precisely the steps! Beer making is a craft on its own, something that takes time to master. I am in anticipation of the finished product but I won’t know until the fermentation process is completed around mid-March.
The unveiling of this beer will be at our upcoming engagement party. I’ll report back on how it turns out.
BEER UPDATE! April 19, 2013
I realized I haven’t reported back on this yet, but we had our engagement party on March 23rd and the Dusseldorf Altbier turned out very well! My feedback: Well-balanced with a smooth finish, malty, slightly hoppy and highly drinkable. Trinksprüche!
The Year 2012 According to Facebook
Happy new year people! Here’s to a great 2012 and hopefully another equally good if not better year ahead. I am not good at making new year’s resolutions or keeping them, so let me just take a look back and share with you some highlights of the past year. Some of the memorable events included the day we brought home a puppy in January, a big ski trip to Mt. Baker with friends, a trip to Indonesia and the Philippines, a summer weekend in Chelan and three weddings, one of which was in Vegas. In 2012 I learned how to use a sewing machine, learned to paddle “surf” and learned how to play Cards Against Humanity, a game not intended for the politically correct. In December I chopped my first real Christmas tree, and to cap it all off and end the year with a bang, Breezy and I got engaged. Yup, I now have a fiancé. I’m still really getting used to that word.
2013 is looking to be a busy year. My two big goals: Ride my bike 200 miles to Portland for the STP, and plan a kick-ass wedding party.
I think the reason why some people prefer cooking over baking is because cooking offers a lot more room for improvisation. Whereas baking is more of an exact science and demands that you follow the instructions right to a tee, cooking allows you to develop the dish as you go, adding and subtracting ingredients and taste testing every so often until the desired product is achieved. I wing it a lot when I’m cooking, especially when I don’t have enough of the required ingredients on hand (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the boy can eat almost anything and so far I haven’t yet produced something that was too awful that he ran away screaming). When I whipped up this tomato salsa I consulted several different recipes and each called for several pounds of tomatoes, and since I only had 10 (tomatoes) I had to modify the quantities of the rest of the ingredients to make it work. And it did and it turned out wonderful. And I also personally think it’s hard to screw up salsa. Below is a list of the ingredients, as best as I can remember:
10 large tomatoes (cored, deskinned and chopped)
2 large poblano peppers (broiled, deskinned, deseeded and chopped)
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar*
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of cumin
(*Note that if you plan to can salsa, you will need more vinegar to keep the peppers from spoiling. Consult a recipe especially made for canning)
Mix all of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Keep tasting every so often and adjust the spices and seasonings until you achieve the desired taste. If you want a lot of heat in your salsa you can skip deseeding the jalapeños and throw it all in the pot, seeds and all. I felt mine ended up too mild so I rectified this by adding pepper flakes towards the end of the cook time.
I skipped the canning part since I only got about 3 pints out of it, and salsa never lasts very long in this household. In fact I think this will all be gone before next weekend.
Did you get some fresh ripe tomatoes this summer? What did you do with them?
Best source: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/canned_tomato_salsa/
Today I spent most of my time indoors. In the kitchen to be more accurate. I did a quick inventory of our fruit and veggie baskets this weekend and found some sad looking bananas that have been forgotten and a big bag of plums that were sitting in the fridge, already in their prime and waiting to be canned. Today felt like the perfect time to roll up my sleeves and do something with them. I do not like to waste food but sometimes it happens and I find myself chucking overripe fruit or wilted greens that we weren’t able to cook or eat fast enough. But not today!
Today’s efforts yielded a few pints of plum preserves and a loaf of banana pecan bread. And as if she knew what I was up to, my mom showed up with a bag of tomatoes she picked this morning from her boss’s garden. Mmmm…Salsa anyone?
Happy Sunday everyone!