Knitting: Double Deluxe

Today I delivered a little holiday cheer to my two favorite dogs. Somehow I think I got so much more delight out of it than they did, but they were sports just the same. So Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my family and friends, their love, support and health (and for friends that will let me do this to their dogs).

Pattern: To Humiliate The Dog
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Inspiration: Looking To Nature, Looking At Art

I saw these gems as I was on my morning walk. Their heart shapes, by nature or nibbled into it, were both caught by my eye. They got me thinking again of inspiration; what inpires us to create?
Last week I spent a few hours at the Picasso exhibit at SAM. I was not a huge fan of the paintings displayed, but I found it hard not to be drawn into the work, especially his drawings. For me, trying to see what he saw before reading the titles and figuring out what it really was, became part of the enjoyment. Your imagination was running full speed trying to keep up with this guy who made a career out of seeing like a child. It is well known he gained inspiration from his lovers along the way; Picasso also found inspiration in the bombing of Guernica and created one of his most famous works.
So with Picasso in mind and that ever constant battle with my artist within, I leave you with this quote:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  ~Pablo Picasso

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Inspiration: Faux Fur And Feathers

Anthropologie is always one of my favorite stores and websites to haunt for eye candy and inspiration. Their catalogs are always dreamy and I'd step into one if I could. With the weather getting cold, I took a peek to see their latest scarves for winter. While they still have their typical soft and drapey antho-style pieces, here are a couple that caught my eye. Fox stole anyone?

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Recipe: Okara, Not Okra | Soy Milk Maker Part 2

It's nearly two weeks since we received our SoyQuick I've already made about 10+ batches of homemade soy milk. It really is easy and fast to make, clean up is a snap and the results are delicious. And right out of the gate I tried something new with the left over okara. Hubby was proud, and excited to try...
Vegan Crab Cakes. I don't know if I'm supposed to spell crab with a k in this instance or not.

I used to eat seafood and sometimes I liked it. Crab cakes weren't on the like list, but I wanted to like them. They always looked so good with their goldeny fried outsides and the sauces that went with. The recipe I followed promised they tasted like real crab cakes without smelling up the house. Aside from a overdose of salt via Old Bay and my heavy hand, they kind of did.

We served our up with golden baked rosemary potato wedges, and a garden salad. If anything, it was nice to have tartar sauce again.

Vegan "Crab" Cakes

2 slices whole wheat bread, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup minced celery (use a food processor to chop all vegetables quickly)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, minced
1/2 green pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups okara (about what you get from making one batch of soymilk in a soymilk machine)
1/2 cup oatmeal (the quick kind, not instant)
1-2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. nori or dulse flakes (may use other flaked sea vegetable)

In a food processor or blender, whirl bread pieces into fine crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until dried and toasty. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a non-stick skillet, cook celery, onion, carrot, pepper and parsley until softened, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine okara, sautéed vegetable mixture, oatmeal, and seasonings. Mix well and set aside to “rest” for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Using about 1/4 cup for each cake, form mixture into about 15-20 patties about 2 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Coat each side of the patty with bread crumbs and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Carefully turn cakes over and return to the oven to bake until second side is toasty and browned, about 15-20 minutes.
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Recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

I haven't had pumpkin pie in over 3 years now and figured it was time to get over my aversion to tofu filling and give it a try.

Verdict? Delicious crust, ok pie. It did hit the spot. And the husband made "mmmmm" sounds with every bite. I think I'll try new recipes before saying "mmmmm" with every bite though.

Was it the same as the pumpkin pie I grew up on? No, but not in a bad way, just different. The recipe I used says to bake for 1 hour or until the knife comes out clean. I used fresh pumpkin puree, and it baked for 1 1/2 hours until I finally said that's enough and figured it had to set up a bit in the fridge. Thankfully it did and we didn't have a plate of ooze on crust which was quite delicious and I will use that recipe again.

Here's a photo of its yummy goodness before it took pie form. Since the pie had minor acupuncture, I opted not to take it's after photo.

Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Pie

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c pecan pieces
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 c shortening

1 (16.oz) package extra firm lite silken tofu
1 (16.oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c plus 2 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 c pecan halves

For the crust, pulse flour, pecans, salt and sugar in a food processor until pecans are ground. Add shortening and pulse until almost combined, then add 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just blended. Gather dough into two balls, and then press each into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until firm. Once chilled, roll out into a 9-inch circle on a lightly floured surface and fit into an 8-inch pie pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the filling, preheat oven to 400*F. Blend tofu in a food processor or blender until creamy and smooth. Add pumpkin, sugar, 1/4 cup of the maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and blend well. Set aside. Set aside 8 pecan halves to use for garnish. In a small bowl, toss remaining pecan pieces with remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup, then place evenly on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour filling into pie shell and bake approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Set pie aside to let cool, then top with non-dairy topping and decorate with remaining 8 pecan halves.
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Fresh from the bean! | Soy Milk Maker, Part 1

Like most households we drink a lot of milk. Being vegan, ours just happens to be soy milk. So in an effort to get a bit greener and complicate my life further, I decided it was time to cut out the cartoned milk and make my own.

Enter SoyQuick 930P. You’d think it came with its own Light Saber, right? There are a few different models of soy milk makers out there and the reviews vary from “great” to “meh”. After reading over the different brands/reviews, I forked over a few $$ and jumped in.

Here's my initial response: I LOVE it!

Ok, so it's a teensy fussy to get the skins off the soy beans, but everything else so far has been a breeze and the milk? It’s delicious. And naturally, I was skeptical. I've tried a lot of commercial brands, some are overly sweetened, others a bit too beany for my taste. Before it arrived I found a recipe to christen it with. I've made 3 batches today, drank two glasses and used it in my morning smoothie. Here's the recipe I used, with the exception of the barley malt, which I haven't picked up from the store yet. I don’t think it needs it though, and I’ll be cutting back the vanilla and the sugar content in future batches. Additionally I have added 2 Tbsp of Liquid Calcium to ward away osteoporosis.

Julie’s Homemade Soymilk

This soymilk has a wonderful malted flavor and silky texture. It’s a favorite around our house, and has become our go-to recipe. I developed this recipe for the new Soyquick Premier Milk Maker 930P, which is filterless. If you’re adapting the recipe for a different machine, you’ll need to reduce the amount of soybeans and water, according to the manufacturer’s directions.

3/4 cup (or 1 2/3 cups with the special Soyquick measure cup), soaked overnight
1 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp white jasmine rice, rinsed
Filtered water to the second water-mark (about 6 1/2 cups)
4 tbsp dry barley malt extract
2 tbsp agave syrup, organic sugar or other sweetener of choice
Pure vanilla extract, optional
Pinch salt

1. Rinse soaked soybeans, removing skins, if desired. Fill machine with water to the top water line. Add soybeans, oats and rice. Turn machine on and prepare milk according to manufacturer’s directions. Unplug machine, remove top, and set aside to cool down.

2. Strain soymilk into a large pitcher. Add barley malt extract, agave, vanilla (if using), and salt. Whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate once it’s completely cool.
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Stepping Out of the Box

Here's my big news for this week! I'm stepping out of the box in two directions.
Saturday is big for JFP; my first photography workshop for the WSU Extention and the Tacoma Art Museum Gala auction which I have two auction items in. If you find yourself at either event, please come heckle me and check out a few of my favorite portraits. Let me know what you think!
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Yarn Swap: Leaving with better yarn

The knitting group I hang out with (shameless plug here: Terrible Knitters of Kent) held a yarn swap this weekend. The idea was to bring in your excess, uninspired and unwanted yarns, pool them with everyone elses e.u.u. yarns and then raffle off the goods to those who wanted them. Any left over yarns were to be given to a local knitting charity.

I don't know how, but I walked away with a lot of very nice yarn. Much nicer than the basket of Sugar & Cream I came in with. Who was I kidding when I bought all of that? I don't even use cloth dish cloths. Aside from being delighted to have a basket full of beautiful new yarn, this will help keep me inspired and (hopefully) out of the yarn store for a while.
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Recipe: Vegan Green Curry

I have a thing for green curry. It's my standard whenever we go out to Thai. In an attempt to be cheap and ditch the usual takeout, I bought a small jar of curry paste and made a lackluster dish of my own. It was very mild even after I doubled the amount of curry paste in the recipe, and too sweet for my liking. There had to be a good curry recipe out there that would make my tastebuds sing, perhaps even in my stash of cookbooks.

I have this great cookbook from Rebar in Victoria that I often find friends asking for recipes from for this dish or that. It never disappoints. Their curry had just the right amount of heat without being overly spicy, and a very fresh taste and a lemongrass tang. I'll admit it was a little bit more fuss to prepare than I usually like for a weeknight, but as our dinner guests said "it was worth the wait".

Green Curry Paste

Yields 1 ½ cups

1 Tbsp whole coriander
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp black pepper corns
4 garlic cloves
1 oz ginger or galangal
½ cup chopped shallots
2 jalapeno peppers, with seeds
2 lemongrass stalks
4 scallions
½ tsp red chile flakes
1 bunch cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp salt
½ cup peanut oil

Toast the coriander, cumin and peppercorns in a hot, dry skillet until fragrant. Cool and grind to a fine powder.

Slice off the root ends and the top two-thirds of the lemongrass stalks. Peel away the outer layer of the remaining bottom pieces and discard the trimmings. Roughly chop the lemon grass. Combine all of the ingredients, including the ground spices, in a food processor. Pulse several times and stop to scrape down the sides. Puree to a smooth paste. Transfer to a clean jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Monk’s Curry

Serves 4

1 recipe sesame baked tofu (used plain extra firm tofu, pressed to release water)
1 can coconut milk
4 Tbsp green curry paste
6 fresh kaffir lime leaves, stemmed and shredded
¼ cup stock or water
2 red potatoes, 1/8” thick quarter-moon slices (used Kabocha squash instead)
1 Tbsp palm or brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp fish sauce (omit & use soy for vegan)
2 Japanese eggplants, half-moon slices
½ lb oyster mushrooms, sliced
4 baby bok choy, leaves separated
2 bunches scallions, 1-inch long slices
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup Thai basil leaves or cilantro, chopped
¼ cup peanuts, roasted and chopped

Heat a wok over medium heat and add 13 can coconut milk. Heat to a simmer and add the curry paste. Work the paste into the coconut milk to thoroughly combine. Add lime leaves and stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, cover and cook at a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just tender.

Stir in the palm sugar, soy and fish sauce, eggplant, mushrooms and remaining coconut milk. Cover and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender.

Turn up the heat and add the tofu, bok choy and scallions. Simmer until the bok choy wilts and the sauce reduces and thickens.

Just before serving, stir in the lime juice, basil or cilantro and season to taste with more fish or soy sauce. Serve with jasmine rice garnished with roasted peanuts, chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
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Diagonal Garter Stitch Scarf

This little baby was knit-in-public friendly and super quick to finish. More often than knot my knitting group projects are super basic, otherwise I find myself going into auto-pilot and messing up the patterns. I worked this in Crystal Palace "Mini-Mochi", a washable 80% merino/ 20% nylon blend, that I picked up at the Knittery, along with the pattern. I love the slipped edge and how soft it feels wrapped around my neck. I'm hoping the gift recipient loves it too! Xmas knitting strike one!
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Of at least these two things: Sheep-to-Shawl and hand spun yarn.

I hadn't planned an excursion beyond the funeral I was attending, but a lazy morning reading the paper lead me to the days happenings section, and much to my delight, a Sheep-to-Shawl was going on in the very town I was in. So with only an hour left of the S-t-S I dashed over to what was probably the smallest knitting event I've seen. But one with miniature pony rides and a really cool vintage hat display nonetheless.

There were 4 booths, 5 if you count the painter who didn't have a lick of fiber portrayed in her work. Two vendors feverously spun away from huge baskets of freshly sheared fleece. Another was working on some miniscule version of what I believe was tatting. And then there was a woman demonstrating how the raw fleece was combed and combed until the fibers all lay the same way, and then spun it up. The finished product was smooth, lumpy, and somewhere in between. She pulled bits of puff that didn't quite get tangled in, doubled it up on it's self and voila! Hand spun yarn was born.

Many of my friends come away from events like this with arms cradling their newly acquired stash. My score was not to be had that day. A certain yellow yarn I just can't seem to locate is out there somewhere waiting for me, and so my purchases amounted to a $4 cat toy and a strip of raffle tickets that only left my wallet lighter. Ooh, and these adorable stickers I have no idea what I'm going to do with.

I'm sure one of these days I will venture into the handspun yarns, but for now I have a small collection of yarns large enough to keep me busy well into the next few years.
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Shindigs Martini Bar

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Recipe: Bourbon Glazed Squash

I haven't posted in a loooong time, but think it's time I get back into posting for fun too. Today I tried a new recipe from Vegan Dad, it's a recipe for Bourbon Glazed Acorn Squash. Sounds exotic!
There was half of a huge squash leftover in the fridge, and no bourbon, so I used Capt'n Spiced Rum instead. The glaze mixture was delicious and tasted like hot buttered rum batter. I could have eaten the whole bowl minus the squash and spoon, but didn't. I served the roasted squash on a bed of quinoa along side an organic salad, ingredients from Full Circle Farm, drizzled with smoked tomato dressing. I didn't plan the table cloth to coordinate. That was a happy accident.
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