Friday, February 27, 2015

Broccoli-Cheddar Chowder and Whole-Grain Cheese Muffins

I've got your back. Especially if what's on your back is 100 falling-off buttons, and you need them sewn on in the single minute before your wedding starts. Just saying. #iamagoodfriend
My darlings. I have been a negligent recipe offerer. So I'm compensating with two, which are favorites, and which I've been making again lately, what with the bitter cold and the snow and the snow falling, snow on snow on snow, and also the cold. My oldest, dearest friend is dying in a hospice in Coney Island. I have wanted not to mention that because, well, you know, she is a loyal reader, and who really wants to read that, especially about one's own self? But I think she will not be reading this. And Ben and Birdy have been sweetly teasing me that I have a kind of grieving-Tourette's right now: Hi. I'm Catherine. Nice to meet you. My best friend of 43 years is dying. 

Enough said. Because soup and muffins. Comfort. Love. Lots of cheese. xo

I garnished with "reserved broccoli florets" that I forgot to mention. Texturally, butter-fried breadcrumbs is an even better choice.

Broccoli Cheddar Chowder
Serves 6
Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 45 minutes

Thickened simply with potatoes, this wholesome green soup is easy, delicious, and velvety-rich. Also: broccoli!
1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound of  potatoes (any kind), peeled and diced
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups whole milk
pinch of dried thyme or marjoram or mint (if you've got fresh herbs--cilantro, mint, or basil--use more, and add them just before pureeing)
1 large head broccoli (1 ½ pounds), stems peeled, stems and florets chopped
Juice and grated zest of ½ a lemon
8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat, and sauté the onion and garlic for five or so minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes, broth, milk, and herbs, bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Add the broccoli, and simmer another 10 minutes or so, until the broccoli is tender but still green. Puree, using a stick blender (or carefully, in batches, in a blender), then stir in the lemon juice, zest, and cheese, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Whole-Grain Cheese Muffins
Makes 12

This is a recipe I adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, but I use whole-grain flour instead of white flour and buttermilk instead of milk. Also sharp cheddar instead of Colby jack. The muffins are quick and easy to put together, crunchy-edged, and outrageously savory. Heavily season any soup you eat alongside or it will taste flat by comparison.

1 1/2 cups flour
 (I use 1 cup spelt, and ½ cup whole-wheat)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (I use salted)

Heat the oven to 375 and grease and flour a 12-well muffin tin.
Whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the cheese.
In a separate bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk the egg, milk, and butter together.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon just to combine.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are deeply golden and firm to the touch.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Peg Doll Book Winner!!!

KellyB. Please email me with your address! And thank you all so much for playing.

Real post coming soon.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making Peg Dolls & More, and a Give-Away!!!

What? Just because she looks like a person more likely to forge a pole axe and come after you with it than make a little peg doll? #watchyourback
I am participating in a Blog Tour! I know! And it's because I am just in love with this book, and when Margaret Bloom asked me to write about it here, I couldn't resist.

This is the first book.
Making Peg Dolls & More is her follow-up to the lovely Making Peg Dolls, and it's so deliciously gorgeous and inspiring that it is currently in rotation here as a coffee table book. [cough *Waldorf coffee table* cough *drink your Sereni-Tea*] Birdy and I pretty much compulsively leaf through it, all the time, and every page shows something we want to make: dreamy-perfect little dolls and toys and ornaments, everything so appealingly wool and wood, so pretty and gentle. Plus, the instructions are super-clear.

We got the book a little before the holidays, and Birdy immediately decided on the project she wanted to make for gifts: these little Herbal Comfort Friends, which are sewn from felt, completed with wooden beads, and filled with sweet-smelling herbs. She designed her own medallions: a sprig of lavender for her grandmother's lavender-filled friend, a little campfire for her friend Harry's that's filled with mint, and a little wind storm for her test doll, that she kept for herself. She loved making them. They are just the sweetest things and, I'm imagining, double nicely as drawer-scenting sachets.

I wish I had a scan of Harry's thank-you note. I think it says, "Thank you for that mint thingy." True, he might not have been the ideal recipient of this particular gift, but it's the thought that etc. 
Birdy was making a diorama for her Underground Railroad report, and she painted this little figure for it. Not a Making Peg Dolls project exactly, but certainly inspired by it. I love the way Margaret paints all the dolls with watercolors so the wood shows through. 

If there were 40 doll bodies in your house, then you could make a few yourself, and your kids wouldn't even miss them!
Making Peg Dolls & More, plus this set of 40 wooden doll bodies (pictured above), would make the world's most perfect gift for a crafty kid. It only gives me a little pang because I feel like my days of giving that kind of gift are truly numbered. Sigh. And then what? Mani-Pedi gift certificates? A Meth-Lab Kit?
I lifted this photo from the Wee Folk Studio post, because this is my very favorite project in the book. 
Anyways, thanks to Margaret's generosity, as well as that of Hawthorn Press, I am lucky enough to be hosting a give-away here. Just leave your name in the comments here if you'd like to be entered (!), and I will announce a winner a week hence. February 18th, 11:00 am EST. Or thereabouts. And for more chances to read about it and win, feel free to visit the other blogs that are hosting reviews and give-aways of this tender, optimistic world-view-as-book:

February 2nd :: The Crafty Crow 
February 3rd :: Clean 
February 4th :: Castle in the Air
February 7th :: A Child's Dream
February 9th :: Forest Fairy Crafts
February 10th :: Bella Luna Toys
February 12th :: Twig & Toadstool
February 13th :: Wee Wonderfuls

Good luck! And lots of love. xo

Monday, February 09, 2015

We Are Obnoxious But We Love You

Ben made this up, when I was going crazy thinking of poems and puns for a holiday work project. I have it hanging over my desk, and it makes me smile every day. "Do you think anyone's going to be offended?" I just asked him, and he said, "If so, they probably shouldn't be reading you." He's a realist.
Oh, Valentine's Day. All of my best ideas are still here. Though there are some bad links, so I'm going to rehash a few ideas here in brief. Mostly you will need: doilies. For instance, to make a pretty cake.

Figure A.
Figure B.
This is the cake you want. You just lay the doily over the (bottom of the) cooled cake and sift powdered sugar over it. Voila! I snipped a heart out of a round doily here, but a heart-shaped doily is also perfect for this. Speaking of heart-shaped doilies!

You can see that I was more about the face than the shirt while snapping this picture. Sigh.
This is a shirt idea I developed for FamilyFun a number of years back. You just stick a doily to a washed and dried cotton t-shirt (I used a loop of tape on the solid part of the doily to stick it down) and use a sponge brush to dab white acrylic or fabric paint down over and around the doily. Then lift the doily off carefully while the paint is still wet (I find that if you wait until it dries, you end up lifting off some of the paint). A folded piece of newspaper inside the shirt prevents leak-through. Done. I use a pearly-white acrylic paint, so I don't even need to heat-set it, but if you use fabric paint, just follow the directions on the bottle.

And if you wanted to make an anatomical heart t-shirt, those instructions are here.

Unrelated: someone pointed out that the Whole-Wheat Chocolate-Chip Cookies weren't here. WTF? That is seriously crazy, given that we make them at least all the time. Remedied, and please keep your requests coming. I love them.

And come back soon! Wednesday-soon. Because we are going to do a special give-away then!