Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Striped Shoulder Cardigan

I love how the stripes on this cardigan stand out even more because of the row of garter stitches dividing them.  Based on this Super-Natural Stripes pattern, but I only used 2 colors (Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton in Curacao and Petits Fours) and kept the sleeves short.

The sweater may be a little bit wonky in a few places (ahem, I ran out of blue yarn so the last stripe on the sleeves is too thin, plus I think I picked up too many stitches on one side of the collar, so it hangs a little low), but I think it's pretty cute anyway and hopefully you won't notice the flaws once it's on a cute toddler, namely Zoe.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I have been on a raisin kick recently for some unknown reason (maybe I need iron?), and, after my bread-making success a few weeks ago, I decided to combine my raisin obsession with my bread making skillz. 

I popped open my trusty Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and found a recipe for cinnamon raisin swirl bread made with a buttermilk dough base.  So good.  So, so good.  And so, so easy to boot since it's a no-knead recipe.  Tim and I could barely wait for it to cool before cutting into it and then subsequently ate almost the entire loaf in one sitting.

I haven't seen buttermilk here in Jakarta, so I used ye olde whole milk + lemon juice trick.  Also, I brushed the bread with butter and sprinkled it with a little bit of sugar right before popping it in the oven, which made for an awesomely crispy top crust.

Mango Cocktail

Tim was musing the other day that we should make a pineapple and vodka cocktail of some sort since the pineapple is so sweet and easy to get here (you can pick one out and have them peel it for you at the store...so easy).  My mouth started watering at the thought, but we didn't have a pineapple at that exact moment.  We did have a ripe mango, though, not yet earmarked for another purpose, so I looked up some mango cocktail recipes and immediately had at it, with delicious (albeit not very photogenic) results:

I ended up using this recipe from The Kitchn... mango puree, lemon juice, vodka, a little simple syrup and soda water.  So good.  Not too sweet, not too thick, extremely refreshing.  An exciting break from our usual, the gin rickey.

For a party I think you could make a big pitcher of the mango/lemon/vodka mix and then have people pour it in the glass and top off with soda water.  Also, I think a flavored simple syrup would do well here- ginger, lemongrass or vanilla, or maybe chili for some spice.  I guess you could do flavored vodka, too, if you wanted. 

Pineapple vodka cocktail recipe coming soon...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheddar and Veggie Pinwheels

Tim and I had some trouble with our propane range today- we were sitting around watching the Olympics and suddenly smelled gas (and I realized why I had such a bad headache).  The tank seemed to be leaking- we think maybe rubber ring that seals the tank to the tubing was worn.  We'll be looking into that tomorrow, for certain, but in the meantime we just turned it off and opened all the windows (thus letting in mosquitoes since we don't have any screens...sigh).

In the interim, I tried to figure out something for dinner that didn't require the stovetop... I settled on a recipe loosely based on these broccoli and cheddar pinwheels.  I had pizza dough in the freezer and a ton of veggies and cheddar in the fridge, but I wanted to add more flavor to the recipe by roasting the veggies with garlic and red pepper flakes instead of steaming it.  

Here's what I did:

- Mince 2 cloves of garlic 
- Finely chop about 3 cups of veggies (in my case I used broccoli, cauliflower and carrot)
- Mix veggies and garlic with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes.
- Spread it out onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or so at high heat (about 400F), until starting to brown on the edges; cool
- Shred 1.5-2 cups of cheddar cheese
- Mix cheddar, veggies, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
- Roll out 1 lb of pizza dough (I used this recipe from Martha Stewart) into a large thin rectangle
- Spread veggie and cheese mixture onto 3/4 of the dough, then tightly roll into a long tube
- Cut the tube into pinwheels
- Put the pinwheels on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes

Pretty tasty!  

Loop Baby Toy

Made this cute crocheted baby toy to bring to baby Alex in August... really easy and fast, plus it uses up scrap yarn left over from other projects!

The pattern creator suggests putting jingle bells inside the tube, but I also think you could put something crinkly, too.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pretzel Toffee

Omg.  This pretzel toffee stuff is addictive.  Pretzels.  Butter.  Sugar.  Chocolate.  Salt.

It's pretty hard to go wrong with those ingredients...  salty and sweet, crunchy and chocolatey.

Although, go wrong I did, but it turned out ok in the end.  I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe, except I substituted the matzoh crackers with pretzels (a la this interpretation).  For some reason, though, my caramel went wonky, causing the butter and sugar to separate, which I didn't realize until after I had poured it over the pretzels.  Once hardened, it didn't seem to make much of a difference as far as taste or consistency, which is why there are only 2 pieces remaining for this photo shoot.  Addictive, indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Super tender salmon with a sweet and mustard-y glaze based on this Bobby Flay recipe: rather than grill it, I put the salmon fillets skin-side-down on a tin foil covered cookie sheet, S&Ped them and then topped them with the glaze... baked them at about 450 F for 10 or 11 minutes until the glaze was slightly caramelized and the salmon slid right off the skin.

Served with a side of gingery/garlicky stir-fried baby bok choy, spiced up with a little bit of crushed red pepper.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Scout's Honor

The Grainline Scout t-shirts keep coming...  here are my latest versions, some with tweaks (both accidental and purposeful):

Eggplant batik, for Colleen to tide her over until she makes it out here to Indonesia:

Purple flowers, for Chuck's birthday, with plenty of help from Lincoln:

Accidentally sleeveless linen... I made this one from some so-light-pink-it's-almost-white linen that I bought, but didn't use, for my wedding dress.  I only had a yard, not enough to cut the sleeves except on the bias.  Turns out sleeves cut on the bias are wonky and terrible, so this one ended up as a sleeveless shell:

And lastly, a mauve, black and olive chevron Scout for myself, with sleeves lengthened by about 2.5 inches:


Tim and I had a mean bagel craving this past weekend, so we decided to make some.  Funnily, when looking up bagel recipes that called for all-purpose flour, I stumbled upon this blog post on Inquiring Chef, a woman living in Bangkok also on the hunt for legitimate bagels.  Like her, I am able to find decent bagels here in Jakarta (we went to Bagel Bagel in Kemang... not bad, although the humidity messes with the chewy crust something fierce), but making them is pretty fun, so here we are.

I followed Inquiring Chef's recipe, for the most part, although I put 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp molasses into the dough and also did the overnight method, more like the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, making the dough the night before, but boiling and baking the morning we wanted to eat them.  Tim and I topped ours with sea salt and sesame seeds (why does everything I cook these days have sesame seeds in it?), which is a delicious combo.   The bagels were better if I baked them longer, though- more like 14-15 minutes for a darker and chewier crust.  Mmm.


Tiny Pocket(less) Tank

Since I am so in love with Grainline's Scout T-shirt pattern, I thought I would download another pattern from the site: the Tiny Pocket Tank. It's a simple but modern-cut tank perfect for hot Jakarta weather. 

I decided to make my first version out of an old cotton and linen button-down shirt of Tim's that he no longer wears.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have done a straightforward version of the tiny pocket tank rather than a refashion, but it turned out pretty well in the end anyway. 

I skipped the tiny pocket in the end, but left the button down placket from Tim's shirt intact.  I sewed it up, though, to prevent any gaping.  The chest area is a little bit tight on me (the top of the pattern is not quite as roomy as the Scout t-shirt- it's slightly more fitted- so I misjudged my size), so next time I may go up a size. 

I'm looking forward to making many more versions of this pattern! 

Granola Bars, Take 2

After my success with granola bars last week, Tim requested that I make some more, but with peanut butter.  I made mine based on a different recipe, one that didn't involve cooking the bars after forming them.


The end result was quite tasty- I like the flavor of these much better than last week.  The consistency was much softer... more like Rice Krispie treats.  Thumbs up, except that they crumbled somewhat when handled.

I used the same technique as the recipe, but switched up the ingredients a bit:

1 cup oatmeal (mine wasn't instant, so I toasted in the oven for about 10 minutes)
1 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted along with the oatmeal)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter

Heated the honey and brown sugar together until the sugar dissolved, then added peanut butter.  Tossed together all of the dry ingredients and poured the peanut butter sauce over the top.  Pressed it all into a lightly greased 9" x 9" pan.  Cooled, cut and ate!

Friday, July 20, 2012

More Big Butt Baby Pants

More big butt baby pants based on the Made by Rae pattern... this time I was using scraps, so I made the contrasting butt panel and lower legs, both with some decorative top-stitching for extra color and strength.  Pretty cute!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fabric Leaves

I started this fabric leaves project months and months ago, but then my sewing machine ceased functioning in the zig-zag fashion...  it still did straight stitching, so I wasn't too worried about it and clearly got along fine.  But last week something else went wonky and the machine ceased to function at all.  Sigh.

The good thing is, services like sewing machine repair are ridiculously convenient and cheap here in Indonesia.  $20 for a 1-hour home visit from a repairman who not only fixes the machine, but makes it run like buttah?  Don't mind if I do.

Anyway... fabric leaves.  Pretty good use of random fabric scraps you have laying around.  Makes a cute arrangement.  Based on this Amy Butler tutorial.

Lincoln likes it:

Challah with Red Bean Paste

One of the more fun things about living in Indonesia is seeking out and experimenting with new ingredients.  One ingredient that I love, but had not yet used myself, is red bean paste.  Sweetened red beans are used in lots of Asian desserts... dumplings, pancakes, buns, icy desserts.  Sounds weird, but it's good stuff... sweet, but kinda earthy in a way.  My favorite red bean dessert is deep-fried, sesame-covered red bean balls.

I found a bag of red bean paste at the grocery store and bought it immediately.  Next was to figure out what to do with it...  I wasn't quite ready for the sesame balls (haven't yet figured out which of the many exotic flours at the store is the glutinous rice flour, plus deep frying scares me), but I was inspired by some bread that Tim brought home for me from the Japanese grocery store by his office... sweetish, soft white sandwich bread with swirls of red beans throughout.  Mmm.  

Mini oven.  Big flavor.
I decided to go for something similar to the Japanese bread; a fusion of something I know how to make, sweet challah bread with sesame seeds, with my new ingredient, red bean paste.  Boom.  I fused the crap out of it. It was pretty awesome.

To get the thick red bean paste into the dough (the basic challah from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day), I split the dough into 3 equal(ish) pieces, rolled them out into long, thin pieces, then topped each with a long, thin log of red bean paste.  I rolled the dough around each of the bean paste logs to encase them and then braided them together in the normal fashion.  This worked pretty well, but ultimately the bean paste wasn't spread out through the dough enough for my taste- it was limited to 3 big blobs in each slice:

On my second try, I rolled the dough out the same way, but rather than logs of bean paste, I flattened it out to the extent I could and spread it across the dough, then rolled each of the 3 dough pieces (kinda like how you add the nuts and cinnamon sugar to make the spirals in cinnamon buns) and then braided them together.  The red bean paste was better dispersed through the dough using this method (I think... I sent the second loaf to work with Tim without cutting it open and thus did not see the inside).

UPDATE: I know you were all waiting with bated breath... Tim took a photo of the bread swirled with the red bean paste using the second methodology... bean disbursement is much better:


Monday, July 16, 2012

Big Butt Baby Pants

I've been eying these Big Butt Baby Pants from Made by Rae for a while now... man, I should have downloaded this pattern much sooner! So cute!

Front view.
 The pants have an extra panel in the back to accommodate poofy diaper butt.  If you're fancy, you can sew the pants with a contrasting fabric on that butt panel to maximize cuteness (I did not max out on cuteness this time... I wasn't sure you could take it after the baby romper, grandpa sweater and party hat).

I sewed one pair for baby Zoe (who is barely a baby anymore- she walks! she's 1!), made from a beautiful pink and green Amy Butler fabric that Jenny sent me.  The smaller pair is for baby Alex, made from a cool batik (from which I also made a pillowcase).  They have a bit of an MC Hammer feel to them, but a handsome boy looks good in anything, right?  Plus, if his dad can pull off a singlet, Alex can pull these babies off.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Apple Pancake Rings

I found this recipe idea via Pinterest, but it originated with Carla Hall (former Top Chef contestant and current panelist on The Chew, a talk/cooking show):  apple pancake rings.  Quite a cute idea.

I didn't follow her recipe exactly, but instead used it as inspiration.  I made a simple (perhaps the simplest) pancake batter, a la Jamie Oliver: 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, pinch of salt.  Then I peeled and cored 2 local Malang apples and thinly, thinly sliced them into rings using my mandoline slicer.   I threw the rings into the batter to coat, and then cooked them as I would normal pancakes, on a hot skillet with a little bit of butter.  

So good!  The apple softens up a bit as it cooks, but still maintains a bit of crunch for texture.  Awesome.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Granola Bars

Granola bars are one of those funny things here in Jakarta.  You can get them, sure, but you will pay an arm and a leg.  And your brand and flavor options are limited, too.  I wouldn't call myself a granola bar connoisseur or anything, but I like to have them on hand for a quick breakfast or snack to take hiking or biking, so this situation is somewhat frustrating.

I wondered if I could make my own and whether they would taste as good as (or hopefully better than) the store bought ones.  I'm not quite sure that this recipe achieves any sort of economical success for me, as the ingredients for making the homemade version are not particularly cheap here, either, but the flavor is pretty nice! 

I made my version basically based on Alton Brown's recipe... I used whole almonds (which I then chopped), roasted and salted sunflower seeds, regular brown sugar, and raisins.  Also, I threw in some chocolate chips when stirring the dry and wet ingredients together... the chips melted throughout so the whole bar has a chocolate-y flavor.  Maybe next time I'll try adding some peanut butter?

Baby Romper

Tim and I just bought tickets to head to Sydney, Australia at the end of August to meet up with Amy, Adam and baby Alex (yay!).

I had to come bearing gifts, and since baby Alex probably can't drink Indonesian coffee or appreciate a nice batik yet, I decided to knit him something comfy (in addition to the cute grandpa sweater I made him a few weeks ago)...  

Pretty cute!  I like how big the bottom looks to accommodate diaper butt.  

I used this free pattern, which was quite easy (although I had to wing it a bit on the legs due to my continuing fear of double-pointed needles).  I made the bib a bit wider (about 4 stitches on each side), but otherwise stuck with the pattern.  Used Berroco Comfort yarn.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Party Hat!

It's almost baby Zoe's 1st birthday (I cannot believe a year has passed that quickly!)... since I can't be there for the party (sniff, sniff), I thought I would send her something hand-made to wear while celebrating (and hopefully shoving cake in her face).

Party hat, y'all!


I used this ridiculously easy and quite cute pattern (although I added a few extra rows at the bottom to make it bigger).  I decided to stripe mine to use up random bits of yarn I had left over from other projects (all of it Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton yarn) and to give it some additional personality.

Finally, I topped it with a pom-pom made following this video tutorial.  I didn't trim my pom-pom because I liked the rough, Muppet-esque quality it had.

Lincoln helped, too, trying on the hat (somewhat begrudgingly... can you feel the virtual eye-roll?) at the various stages:

(Zoe, party hat is on the way.  Hopefully it makes it in time!!)

Chinese-Style BBQ Ribs

Tim and I have had a rack of baby-back ribs in the freezer since Super Bowl... since we were running low on freezer space, we decided to bust them out for a slow-cooked Sunday dinner. 

(Sorry the photos are so bad... after smelling these things cooking for 3 hours, I was too impatient to set things up for a good photo.  Had to eat.)

We decided a Chinese-esque marinade sounded good, so I made a marinade that was an amalgamation of a Gourmet magazine recipe and a Rasa Malaysia recipe, with much success.  The resulting ribs were sweet, spicy, sticky and sliding off the bone.  Highly recommended.

Here's what I did:

- 1 rack of baby back pork ribs
- 1-2 tablespoons peeled, minced ginger
- 1-2 tablespoons peeled, minced garlic
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
-  a couple big squirts of Sriracha sauce (maybe 2 tablespoons?)
- Course ground black pepper

  • I blitzed it all together with my stick-blender, reserved about 1/4-1/3 cup, and poured the rest over the rack of ribs.  
  • I marinated the ribs in the fridge for about 7 hours.  
  • I set the oven to somewhere between 325 and 350 F (our oven is in Celsius and is quite inaccurate to boot so I do a lot of estimating), wrapped the ribs in tin foil with the marinade (meaty side down) and cooked them for about 2.5 hours until they were tender and almost falling off the bone.  
  • I opened up the foil, turned the ribs meaty side up, poured the reserved marinade over the top and broiled the ribs for about 7 or 8 minutes (until the marinade was bubbly and caramelized).
  • Served with rice and sauteed veggies.