Make, Jane, make!: 2012

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Kids Pants with Flat Seams

Wow, I've been pretty negligent with my blog posting lately. Do I have any excuses? Not really. Have I been up to anything interesting or time-consuming? Possibly, but probably not. So what have I done? Coloured/crafted/read/played with the kids, did some (...okay, very little... actually, not even close to enough) Christmas baking, obsessed over my son's upcoming birthday party and tried to get the house ready for the holidays. What I really need to do is kickstart some sewing activity since I have quite a few projects planned. So here's a post about pants to get myself into the sewing mood...


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Orange Peel and Anise Braised Short Ribs




We went out for dim sum this past weekend and it reminded me of how delicious the pairing of orange peel and beef are. Luckily, I had recently defrosted some short ribs with no clear plan of how I was going to prepare them. What resulted was buttery, melt in your mouth short ribs covered in a slightly citrus, fragrant, Asian inspired sauce.

Let's try a picture recipe this time:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Birthday Aster Headband


So I was busy making this headband instead of concentrating on making a beautiful birthday cake because baby is really beginning to need accessories to hold her long, wispy, scraggly hair back.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

First Birthday Cake with Beet Swiss Meringue


I've been itching to make Martha's Ruffle Tower cake for ages... but making a ruffle-y cake for my boys never seemed quite right. Of course, now we have a baby girl and making a pink, ruffle cake for her seems just right.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saving extra egg whites for that special occasion...

So the custard you made used 6 egg yolks... now, either you're in love with egg white omelettes or you need to find a way to save up those egg whites for another day.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clean and Dry Pomegranate Seeds

Whew... had to take a short break from the craziness of Hallowe'en posting and recuperate a bit before the holidays hit. I feel a bit remiss ignoring my blog for so long though, so I'm going to ease back into the swing of things with a short post about how I usually deseed a pomegranate.


My kids loooove eating pomegranate arils which surprises me because I always figured that the little seeds inside would be a big obstacle to their enjoyment. In fact, one of my sons will occasionally spit out grape peels because "they too hard to bite!" But, go figure, they love pomegranates.

There are many ways to get those tasty seeds out of a pomegranate. If I'm in a hurry (and I'm juicing the seeds anyway) then I will bang my pomegranates with a wooden spoon for super fast removal, but tis always results in quite a few seeds completely smushed and a lot of sticky juice. Some people advocate peeling them inside a bowl of water, but I find that the arils get all wet and this detracts from their taste and attractiveness and they need to be laid out to dry before serving.

I've found that the easiest way to peel and deseed a pomegranate is simply... to peel and deseed the pomegranate. Of course that's easier said than done if you have no idea what you're dealing with inside that gleaming, ruby red skin. So this post is meant as an introduction to the anatomy of a pomegranate for those who are new to this wonderful fruit.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Delicata Squash Love Affair


[Back to normality... a bit... after the madness of Hallowe'en sewing...] I was introduced to delicata squash by our CSA box this summer and hubby and I are a little in love with this gorgeous heirloom squash. The appeal to us? Sweet, but not overly sweet. Soft, edible skin. Wonderful texture - powdery and smooth like the inside of a double baked potato or a really well fried Yukon Gold french fry. And no pumpkin aftertaste.


I gave it a little roast with a generous amount of butter and salt along with a sprinkling of brown sugar and they turned into the yummiest squash bites ever... Even my sons enjoyed the "sweet and salty french fries" that mommy offered them. So what else could I do with this great squash?


Deep fried like a potato chip? Roasted and blended into gnocchi or ravioli? What about grated for rosti? The possibilities seems so endless. Will keep you updated if I can find some at the local supermarket when the craziness of the next few days dies down.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: The Fit for a Queen Top


I can't believe I finished the kids' costumes early enough this year to make something for myself. It helped that my costume took less than two hours to put together (including drafting!) and I was able to put it together along with DH's crown (the only thing he would consent to wearing) on the morning before our planned pumpkin patch outing. Actually this post took longer to write than the costume construction... although that's partly because we ran out of 8.5 x 11 paper for me to draw the template on [palm-forehead].


I'm going to include a tutorial and my pattern with a few notes:

  • I am about 5'7" and usually a size 10 for dresses and a size L for shirts at Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic.
  • I am wearing a white, v-neck shirt underneath.
  • I used crushed velvet (very stretchy), so I basically cut and sized without any darts or other things that you may need if you choose a fabric with no stretch to it.
  • I didn't put a huge bell bottom on my sleeves for convenience' sake, but if this top had been for an adult masquerade party (i.e. no squirmy babes in arms) then I would definitely have made the sleeves more elaborate.
  • Another modification that would also have worked for the sleeves would be to have fitted forearms/cuffs and a big puffed shoulder/upper arm.
So without further ado....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hallowe'en 2012: Royalty Costume Round-up

This year's jumping off point for Hallowe'en was knights and princes(ses). And after much waiting for better weather and lighting, I finally have some decent pictures of the costumes in action.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: Princess of the Autumnal Forests & Bonus Tutorial


I still remember a time when being a princess didn't entail having a specific name, hair colour, dress and prince.  Being a princess simply meant that you dressed beautifully, behaved elegantly, wore a crown and bossed your little brothers around :) Whenever I wanted to be a princess, I just wore my twirliest dress and taped a zig-zaggity piece of paper into a circle around my head. Now with my own brood yearning to recreate ye ol' ladies and knights of yore, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to bring back the old-fashioned princess costume. So here's a super easy princess costume for any little girl whose mommy feels a little nauseated and disturbed by the Disney Princess franchise.

DIY Hallowe'en: The Felt Princess Headband Tutorial


Baby headbands are too cute, aren't they? I used to think they were more or less ornamental, or at the best, they simply served to distinguish a girl baby from a boy baby. However, now I have a baby with fine, sparse hair that is growing long and scraggly, but not growing thick enough to be held back by any hair clip, and I am beginning to understand that hairbands may serve a purpose.

So scratch using a tiara for her Hallowe'en costume because it would not have any hair to be clipped onto. And ditto for the classic circular crown because her crown definitely needs some kind of elastic to keep it anchored on her constantly moving head. The only headgear left is the venerable head/hairband.


This one was particularly easy to pull together because it consists of only three pieces and some fancy cutting.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: Knight's Costume/Tunic Tutorial

halloween sword shield tunic helmet

Lucky me! I went to Fabricland and a roll of crushed blue velvet was on sale. None of the other colours or styles were... so I'm not sure if I was the beneficiary of a lucky mistake. In any case, I'll take it because it was so perfect for my little knights' tunics.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: Felt and Cardboard Knights' Shields Tutorial


My sons have requested to be a knight and a prince-knight for Hallowe'en this year. You can't have a knight without a sword and a shield. This one is pretty straightforward to make, especially if you've already made the felt sword with the replaceable insert.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: Felt and Cardboard Sword Tutorial


The cardboard sword. A staple of every boy's childhood. Easy, cheap, not very durable. Here's my shot at making the cardboard sword a bit more tolerant of the bumps and bruises of childhood fencing.


We've tried heavy corrugated cardboard, thick wrapping paper rolls, doubling up and taping down - but nothing has ever solved the inevitable bending and breaking of our many cardboard swords. So I began thinking about making a sword out of an etsy-staple... felt.

Of course it would still need some kind of reinforcement and thus the felt sword with a replaceable cardboard insert was born. Here's the tutorial:

Friday, October 12, 2012

DIY Hallowe'en: Felt Sword with a Cardboard Insert


Do your kids love swords? My boys do. So I am constantly saving wrapping paper rolls and other strong, sturdy pieces of cardboard to feed their sword-fighting appetites. Now that the two boys are getting older and play-fighting has become a daily occurrence, I have come under the constant assault of, "Mommy, can you make us some swords?"

Of course, there has not been a single sword that I have made or that has been bought that has survived beyond two or three play sessions. Inevitably, every sword (including, once, a little friend's plastic sword [heartfelt sorry!]) breaks or bends or somehow becomes irrecoverably damaged. There's always the possibility of wooden play swords, but I think I would have a hard time explaining to the ER doctor where my young sons got wooden swords to pummel each other to bits with.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Freezing Calzones: A Perfect School Lunch


Ahh, packing lunch for the kiddies... always so challenging. As I mentioned before, my kids always want to have the pre-packaged stuff that their friends get in their lunch bags. Never mind that mommy is trying hard to minimize the amount of (a) factory produced food we consume and (b) waste we produce.

So once in a while, I have to pull out a trump card to get my kids reinvigorated about their Food Inc-wary, stainless steel container lunches. Some good ol' standbys are anything related to pasta, pizza and hamburgers. (Ever notice how kids' favourite foods slowly evolve into a take-out menu? Where has my three year-old, school-naive son whose favourite dessert was red bean buns gone? Apparently, he's been swallowed up by this new SK kid who talks with his friends about how they all loooove ice cream ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Snack Mix

If your kids are anything like mine then they crave the food that comes wrapped in anything crinkly, plastic, foil and/or disposable. Never mind that they will sometimes get homemade mushroom risotto or sushi for lunch - they just want the Lunchables that their classmate is having. Once in a while though, I'll get one of my versions of a popular snack food just right and they'll gobble it up... even in its unattractive, reusable, non-plastic container packaging :)


Such is the case with our homemade Bits and Bites.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich


We've had some lovely late summer vegetables in our CSA boxes lately - sweet peppers (finally!), eggplants and squash (more on this later). We've also harvested the last of our tomatoes and what hasn't been frozen has been made into some delicious tomato sauce-based pasta dinners. So last night I decided to use some of our leftover pasta sauce and some deep fried goodness to make parmigiana sandwiches.


Our sandwiches consisted of eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, mozzarella, roasted peppers and homemade marinara.... plus some La Bomba sauce for a hot and delicious kick.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Butter Dipped Radishes



Saw this trick a while back on Bon Appetit and thought that I would try it since we get a decent amount of radishes with our farmshare. It's basically a spin on radishes with butter and salt. The radishes are dipped into tempered, salted butter and then left to harden - almost as if they were chocolate dipped.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Scratch: Green Curry Chicken


So I have a lot of thai basil in the garden right now and it's just perfect for making green curry paste. But what to do with the paste? Here's the obvious solution: green curry chicken.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

From Scratch: Green Curry Paste



One thing I always grow in my gardens is basil. It's easy to grow, so much better when it's fresh and a real cost-saver considering that you pay $3 or more for a small bunch at the store. This year I was lucky enough to find organic sweet basil and thai basil seeds, so I have a lot of both growing in the garden... Just ask anyone I know if I've been in the business of dealing zip-top baggies of herbs at every recent girls' night-out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Future Kings and Queens... Update

My tenuous hold on my queendom has further eroded. The reluctant acceptance of my claim to the crown has been rescinded and the knight charged with my safe-keeping refuses to recognize my royal lineage.

Eldest son, E: "Baba, on October it's going to be Halloween and I'm going to be a knight and [little brother] is going to be a prince and [baby sister] is going to be a princess and you're going to be the king and mommy is going to be a pumpkin."

Me (flabbergasted): "A pumpkin!?! Why do I have to be a pumpkin?!?"

Hubby: "Yeah, why is mommy a pumpkin? Why can't she be the queen?"

E: "Oh... Well... then she can be a ladybug."

Me: "A ladybug? Where do you get these ideas?"

E (explaining slowly as if to a small child): "I'm... the... knight... Baba... is... the... king... And... you... can... be... a... ladybug."


Royal family history - A summary of ascension and overthrow
  1. Meteoric rise from "nothing" to "ahh.. ok... queen"
  2. Fall from grace to "pumpkin"
  3. Slight redemption to "ladybug"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Future Kings and Queens...

Continuing in the Medieval and fantasy theme that has intrigued boys of all ages for all time, I've been tasked by my eldest to make him into a knight ("don't forget the sword, mommy!"). His little brother will be a prince ("because the prince and the knight protect the King") and our baby girl will be a princess ("because she looks like a princess, mommy").

Last year's dragon costume.
I've already decided that both boys will have more or less the same costume. They'll just have different accessories to complete the look because the last thing we need on Halloween is "But I want to be a knight like 哥 哥 [big brother]!"

When I asked what Baba and mommy should be, he replied, "Baba is the King because he's the biggest."

"What about mommy? What am I going to be?"

"Umm, nothing."

So hubby asked, "If I'm the King, shouldn't mommy be the Queen?"

Boy, reluctantly with a groan, "Ugghh... okay. Mommy can be a queen."

I guess the monarchy doesn't usually permit the peasantry, royal seamstresses included, into its ranks :P

Friday, September 7, 2012

Beet Rainbow Slaw

Success!!! I found the key to beet love... okay, maybe not love, but at least it's beet like.


Hubby thought beets were pretty good in this raw shredded slaw. I had long suspected that it was probably a bad batch of canned or processed beets in the past that had him so turned off beets. So I figured that raw beets would be my next attempt at changing his mind.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Strawberry Blackberry Yogurt Pops

Oh man, I thought I would be able to finish some posts up before we went on vacation and schedule them to publish automatically while we were gone. Boy was I wrong! As usual, 10pm the night before we planned to leave at four in the morning, I was still awake and packing up food and clothing... sigh. 

Anyway, we're back now and after a brief absence, the posts begin again with this mouth-watering pic...


Okay, stop thinking about how cool it would be to have Wolverine claws and start thinking about how cool and refreshing these yogurt pops were after taking a long, hot walk last Saturday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Late Summer Harvest 2012

My poor pumpkin has succumbed to the mildew wilt brought by the cucumber beetle and withered away into nothingness. As such, I was forced to harvest the pumpkins which are a good sugar pumpkin size. One pumpkin was so ripe that it actually fell off its stem when I picked it up, it will probably become the filling to a pie, cake, or muffin while the other three will likely adorn our front step warning of the approaching of fall (sigh).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Late Summer Gardens 2012


The gardens are very overgrown with flowers (intentionally planted) and hay seeds (unintentionally sown), and I have a feeling that this will be the last really vibrant weekend of my summer gardens before the flowers start wilting and the plants begin to get scraggly.


The clearance priced gladioli have begun to bloom and it was so much fun to wait in anticipation of what colour and size the blooms would be.


The kids are super excited as our pumpkins begin to change colour and take on a more pumpkin-esque hue.


Unfortunately, I was never really able to get on top of the cucumber beetle that seemed to love living in the large pumpkin blooms and the mildewy leaf disease that they spread has really damaged both the pumpkin and cucumber plants. Luckily, we've managed to get a few cucumber harvests into pickle jars and hopefully the pumpkin vine will hold out until the pumpkins completely mature.


Here's the embarrassing mess that I call the tomato patch.... I was overzealous in my planting (again!) and I also let a few plants that self-seeded grow. Which is why there is hardly any breathing space in that garden, barely any weeding leeway and certainly not enough space for the kids to get in and help me pick the tomatoes of the inner sanctum.


So far only one pepper plant has anything to show for all their flowers. Still waiting and hoping for the other plants to start production. Kind of sad that we don't have any scotch bonnets this year because nothing beats sauce and rubs made from fresh hot peppers.


Our cherry tomatoes are also producing and the boys love eating those straight off the vine. I need to snag some tomatoes so that I can save some seeds for next year since these are the only tomatoes that my boys love eating so much. Something about the small size and this particular varietal's thin skins makes them extra juicy and sweet.

Anyway, that's all for now. Just wanted to share what the rabbits (and squirrels now too... grrr...) haven't stolen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grape Tomato and Oregano Sourdough Focaccia


I've been learning the way of sourdough (more on that in a later post!) and having some beautiful grape tomatoes and leftover dried up oregano from past CSA boxes inspired me to make some focaccia. Of course, this focaccia does not have to be made with homemade sourdough ;) You could easily substitute store-bought pizza dough and have the same fresh-baked result.


The method is simple enough...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms, Zucchini and Eggplant

So what do you serve at a small craft brewery's inaugural tasting party? Lots of great homemade food, of course! We had smoked brisket, bbq and jerk ribs, sprouted arugula salad, fennel and orange salad, quiche, homemade sourdough focaccia and this pearl couscous pilaf.


I absolutely love Israeli/pearl couscous - it is the perfect combination of silky smooth and al dente chew.  It can take on a variety of flavours and goes from refrigerator to table with no problems whatsoever.


This particular dish has the added oomph of umami-laden roasted vegetables and comes together in a snap. I think everyone at the table loved this satisfying, vegetarian friendly dish.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Octopus Brewery Swag

My husband and his friend have started a brewery. I know, they're geeks. And I, marching in my own geek parade, thought, "How cool would it be if they had some shirts for their first tasting?"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home Brewing - Octopus Brewery

My husband loves beer.


He has a friend who also loves beer and knows how to brew beer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kale Fried Rice

Ever stuck for lunch or dinner? My kids love fried rice made with... kale!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Garlic Scape Tofu with Ground Pork


More garlic scapes and some scallions in our CSA box and more stir-fry. This time I used the garlic scapes in a no-spice version of ma po tofu. (I'll be so happy when the kids get old enough to eat super spicy foods so that we can go back to food the way hubby and I like it... sigh.)


Usually I make this recipe with garlic, but the garlic scapes promised a much milder and more perfumed flavour...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Roasted Zucchini and Radishes


Previously, I wrote about trying to get DH to like beets. Radishes are another veggie that he is not a fan of and I cannot fathom why. Adding to the mystery is the fact that he enjoys Chinese turnip/radish which (IMHO) has an even stronger taste than your common radish.


So I decided to try roasting the radishes because all vegetables taste great tossed with a bit of olive oil and sea salt and roasted until caramelized. I also mixed them with some zucchini because hubby likes zucchini. 


Then I tossed the whole lot with some balsamic vinegar that I had reduced to a sweet deliciousness and served it alongside of a nice garden salad and stuffed chicken thighs. And what did he think?