Category Archives: Food

Holiday Brunches

WARNING!! If you have gluten sensitivity, are vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, Paleo,  or have any other dietary limitations or qualms about eating fattening food, just pass on over this post, nothing to see here…<

I love the idea of having a late breakfast -slash-early lunch during the holidays. As craftspeople, we like the satisfaction of making things when it comes to meals, too, or just basking in the glow of other people’s creations.

We had brunch at the local breakfast house, 43rd Street Deli, Saturday. Take a look at their creative specials menu:

43rd st specials jennyskip
holiday specials

I had to go for the Crabby Patty special, needless to say.

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Crabby patties for breakfast

Those curvy-shaped fried things with the green undertones are fried avocado slices. Pretty delicious! And their toaster was on the fritz, so I had to get rye toast that had been grilled in just a thin even layer of butter…savory-crisp on one side…

Skip breakfast jennyskip
Skip always gets pretty much, this

Skip’s usual: 2 eggs, any style, with sides. Amy went for the creative and exotic.

Cajun Benedict jennyskip
Cajun Persuasion Benedict

Noele liked the decked-out Holiday Waffle.

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waffleicious

Amy asked for a sample of the blackberry-thyme topping that went with another menu item we passed over, and tasted as good as it sounds.

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Berry Thyme

We got a Swiss Colony breakfast  box as a gift from James and Danielle, so we decided to break it out for Christmas morning.

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Swiss Colony Christmas gift breakfast

The part we enjoyed included peppered bacon, Canadian bacon, marmalade and strawberry preserves, but there’s much more for another day’s brunch….

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bacon, eggs, toast and orange marmalade

I got the recipe for this Olive Shortbread from a recent magazine; it’s a sweet-salty nibble.

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Kalamata Olive shortbread

We still have a little bit of mini-canolli and cherry-topped cheesecake leftover from the family party, for dessert. Oh, did I mention, breakfast comes with dessert at Christmas?

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desserts

This was Amy’s Christmas morning brunch.

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Amy’s Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza brunch spread

Is that spiced cider in the lower right? Mmmmm.

John and Amber had biscuits and gravy after opening presents. I didn’t get a picture, but I can picture it in my mind, with hot sausage,  big flaky buttermilk biscuits, thick-sliced crispy bacon on the side…

Merry Christmas everyone!

Simple Holiday Sewing with Buzzkill Fears and Trepidations

Which is better, cotton or polyester?

It used to be cotton all the way, however, there are so many cool polyester fabrics, it would be a shame to miss out on them. Am I right?

The idea for this Santa blanket came from looking through my fabric stash. The stash includes a big box of polar fleece, minky, minky dot and velour-type fabric remnants, mostly polyester or cotton-poly blends. Our local JoAnn store will roll up some fabric remnants for sale at 50% (sometimes 75%) off.

Most apparel remnants are less than a yard, but most Home-Dec items, including blanket-type material, can be a yard or more. I figure that one yard of fabric 50 to 60 inches wide is a good size for a lap quilt or a baby blanket. If less than .8 of a yard, it would look better pieced with some other fabric.

The main part of this Santa blanket is a high-pile red minky that’s velvety soft on both sides. I think it’s the ideal fabric for a soft blanket. The edges are trimmed with thick bands of white minky dot fabric sewn on right-side edge to back edge of blanket, folded over and sewn down, which are supposed to be reminiscent of the trim on Santa’s hat and suit.

Santa blanket jennyskip
Santa blanket

The next is a takeoff on the Santa blanket, except the center part is pieced and backed. The top is made of 3 pieces of flannel (flannel is a cotton fabric) in red, black and white. The top was sewn, right sides together at two edges, to a piece of red minky dot fabric (polyester). Actually, the back is two pieces; I had to add a strip because the back wasn’t quite big enough. The big fabric cylinder was then turned inside-out. Then two wide strips of black minky dot fabric were sewn on the two ends with still-raw edges, folded over and sewn down, à la Santa blanket above.

I wasn’t very happy with the way it looked constuction-wise, so I decided this one is going to be kept on our couch, ain’t nobady’s business if I do. If I decided to give this as a gift, I probably would have put a layer of polyester batting in the center and quilted it together.

If not tacked together in the center (which this one isn’t), these layers of fabric will probably crackle with electricity when you shake out the blanket. I always worry about stuff like that. For instance, you see along the selvage, on really cute children’s pattern flannel and other fabrics, the buzz-kill warning: Not to be used for children’s sleepwear.

You can google this and find that there are several points of view: that some of these fabrics could catch fire easily. But then, commercial pajamas for kids have chemicals in them to serve as flame-retardants to the fabric in case it does catch on fire. I can remember my kids wearing sleepers that, when they’d been washed about a zillion times, really did crackle and spark with static electricity when they were romping around in them. Wonder if the flame-retardant chemicals washed out after a while? Wonder if the chemicals contributed to eczema? Wonder if shaking out these blankets full of static electricity could cause a fire?

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take off on Santa blanket

And while we’re on the subject of polyester fabrics, there’s a new contraindication going around: shellfish are eating little pieces of plastic that they find in their natural habitats, which are in turn passed on to us at the dining table. Researchers have found that one source of the tiny plastic particles in seafood is run-off water in which polyester clothes are washed. Here’s one article.

We could wall ourselves off from all polyester and acrylic contamination: wear only organic fibers, eat only organic foods, wash with soap that doesn’t contain exfoliating pellets of man-made whatever.  Or maybe it’s too late for that? Maybe it’s a step in the ultimate direction of The Singularity, where mankind becomes one with machine…it starts with our food sources ingesting plastic, and then little by little, those plastic components creep into our metabolisms, our anatomies, our selves?

I think I like cotton better.

 

“Whad J’eet?”*

Even with mounting stress going on in your life, like the aftermath of hurricanes, with loved ones out of the range of communication for days on end, and some loved ones visiting the ER, and painful betadine burns in your eyes, you gotta eat.

It’s something that you can take control of.

A while back, when all the courses on Craftsy’s web site were on sale for about $15, I bought this course Cooking For Two.  

My reasons for shelling out money for an every-day-type-of-cooking class: 1) we seem to be wasting a lot of food due to lack of planning.  2) I wanted us to eat more vegetables and fruits.  3)  I envisioned it as  an activity we could do together, instead of watching reruns on TV in the evening. The instructor, Carla Snyder, really knows how to make tasty food! I’ll add a 4th reason: If I can only scarf a small amount of calories a day without piling on weight, then let me spend it on food that tastes really good.

So far we’ve made pesto sauce, sautéed  gruyère-stuffed pork chops with mango salsa, chicken breast with lemon caper sauce and kale, and rib eye steaks with roasted root vegetables.  All dishes were super delicious, and so much fun to do!

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pork and mango
chicken, kale, jennyskip
sautéed chicken with lacinato kale
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herbs harvested from our raised-bed garden
Oh, by the way, don’t think that we’re such great natural artisans and crafts-people that we breeze through food projects. No, we (I) make bone-head mistakes in this arena as monumental as any we’ve (I’ve) made in the shop or sewing room. I screwed up the garbage disposal by shoving a bunch of woody plant stems down it, so there were a few hidden costs to these dinners…what with the plumber having to make a house call…and while attempting to grind some pepper into the fry-pan on the stove, the grinding doo-hickey broke off the bottle and sent a bazillion bouncing peppercorns into every nook and cranny in the kitchen, as well as flood the pan. I like the taste of pepper, but wow, man.

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dang defective pepper grinder doo-hickey
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steak and roast carrots, potatoes and red onion

Sorry that these photos show the dinners just after we started digging in, rather than the stylized views of the meat glistening on the plate in its caramelized crust, next to a neat bed of side items either marinated, sautéed, or oven-roasted. The photos of the three dinners bring to my mind R. Crumb’s comic “Let’s Eat!”  Google it and see if you agree.

I hope I’ve conveyed in this post, that cooking together has been fun! Too bad you can’t taste for yourself how good the flavors are!

 

  • American Southern for “What did you eat?”