Sunday, February 28, 2010

52 Projects Week 6: We made sushi!


This week me made sushi. I had one failed attempt at sushi several years ago---decided to wing is, did no research, and used long grain rice...results were a tasty but crumbling mess. I went out afterward and bought the proper rice, and never got around to making it until, finally, this week.

This time, I followed instructions. If you google how to cook sushi rice, there are many, detailed sets of instructions. I was overwhelmed by some of them, and finally settled on using Alton Brown's method, which tasted and worked great.

We rinsed the rice and drained it until it was fairly clear-I found I needed about 6 rinsings to get fairly clear water, rather than the 2-3 in the instructions. After rinsing, it looked like this:

Then we cooked it according to the instructions. It came out nice and sticky and quite tasty and looking like this:

Then we laid out all of our ingredients and implements. I tend to be impatient with preparation, and generally wanting to dive right in, but it really helped to have everything right at hand. In our picture, from left to right, top row first: bowl of cold water (for dipping hands and knife), cooked and cooled sushi rice, shredded carrots (our choice of filling), nori sheets, and the bamboo rolling mat.

We checked the rice again for flavor, and all was well.

Then we spread about a cup on all but the top inch. Then spread a row of carrots in the middle, and rolled. I found we needed to seal the outer edge with cold water to make it stick a bit better.

The finished rolls looked like this.

And ready to serve, like this.

It was really easy, and so good. We'll be making them again soon, and I think I'll add it to my list of entertaining foods, because they're easily prepared the night before.
My favorite online instructions for rolling were found here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

52 Projects Week 5: Always Remember


This has been a rather trying, stressful week, for reasons I'd rather not even get into, because, quite frankly, I've spent enough energy in a less than positive direction for this week.

Jane, from The Painted House and 52 Projects posted this week about affirmation cards she's been making. So this week I decided to hang a Vision Board Holder I made, and instead of displaying a Vision Board (it's really time for a new one), I made a list of favorite quotes to focus me, and another list of items on the front burner right now, to focus me on the more stressful days when I need extra help. It hangs where I can see it from our bed. It was a soothing thing to work on for me when I needed extra grounding, and simple, which I also needed this week.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bits of Gratitude

The sweet artwork of our little girl

More canning jars than I can probably fill

Fresh salad in the dead of winter

The sentries surrounding our home

Sunday, February 14, 2010

52 Projects: Week 4, Instant Chai


I'm late getting this posted, but really did this last week!

Much of my creativity gets expressed in food and drink these days, for many reasons. For one, cooking is something I do for our family anyway, so I can fit it into my day without carving out additional "me time" to do it in. Also, I have gourmet taste and a modest budget, so cooking for us allows us the variety I love without blowing our budget.

This past week I made instant chai, recipe found here (I love this blog, by the way, check it out if you're unfamiliar). Very easy to do, mix ingredients in the food processor and spoon into a jar. Add 2 TBSPs to hot water, stir, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love, Valentine's Day, and keeping things Fresh....a rambling post

Patrick and I have been married for 12 years and together for 16. We have had our share of ups and downs...I would not describe this as a sedate relationship. We have been through the birth of our daughter together, the deaths of 3 of my grandparents, and recently, the untimely loss of his sister, and then his mother. We met in our 20s and now one of us is in our 40s (I'm not quite there yet!). We've done a lot of growing up together, and just plain growing.

In so many ways this is such a beautiful relationship. At the core, I think we want the same things, for the most part anyway. I know we love and respect each other. But we also forget what that looks like on a day to day basis, or, at least, I know I do. And it feels like he does. I think it's so easy to take for granted someone we see daily, to make assumptions about so many things.

In recent weeks and months things have been intense, rough as he learns his new job, and more so, to navigate the corporate world after 12 years of self employment. I feel the brunt on this at times. In the midst of that, I have caught myself in the act of being the proverbial "pot" who called the kettle black. Me! Ouch! Feeling put upon, bearing so much of the weight of supporting him through his stress, listening to what sometimes feels like endless venting. Then he, Patrick, my husband, my love, mentioned recently that I complain an awful lot. Me! Again, Ouch!

To be honest, I didn't feel like I was doing that so very much. My life is so good. Not perfect, but very, very good. I'm down to working very part time (1 day a week, and a bit from home here and there), and I get a lot of respect for my skills at work when I'm there. I get to stay home and homeschool our beautiful, healthy, bright, engaging daughter. We have a great new (to us) house that we're settling into, and although there's much we could do to it, there are no real fires to put out, it's very solid. We're not wealthy, but we have enough, when so many are struggling. We're healthy, and surrounded by loving friends, both near and far.

That's how I really, deep in my heart and soul feel about my life. But I struggle with things. Household management is not my strong point and I haven't really been at it very long, it's getting easier. I'm just starting to make solid connections in this community we moved to 7 years ago. Winter isn't my favorite time of year. There are piles of things I simply can't unpack because we don't have the storage in place (bookshelves, etc...). Nothing earth shattering, nothing I feel strongly about all the time.

But....I can see, from his perspective, how he hears too much about these things from me. I know, because I'm on the other side of it. He travels a lot. We're both tired and stretched too far too often lately. And the time we spend together tends to be colored with complaints. Or was.

A few weeks ago, after I had to honestly admit to myself that life with me isn't always delightful, I had an epiphany of sorts. It's simple, but has turned things very sweet. And it's just this...

My husband doesn't need to hear about every frustrating nuance of my life. To be honest, I don't want to hear it from myself anymore, I'm bored by it all. Not that I want to make light of my struggles, they're real to me. But only, really, as important as I choose to make them, and in the grand scheme of things, not so very. It serves me so much better to take a deep breath and breath it all out...and when that doesn't do it, breath some more and some more. Take out my journal and write it down there. And maybe call a friend if I really need to vent a bit, but not to save it all for the man I married. I'd like him to see other sides of me, the delightful ones seen more by those I spend less time with. Not be less than genuine, but just focus more on what's good, and bring that to the table more. I've also, sometimes, been gently excusing myself when I can't listen to him anymore with an open heart, and learning that this can be a gift to us both.

Since I've been doing that, things are just better. I'm more excited to see him at the end of a day or a week. I feel more warmly toward him, and us as a couple, then I have in a long time.

I don't know what love and passion look like long term, not really. But I imagine it's a slow, steady burn that sometimes ignites into a pretty bright flame....that's my dream of it all, anyway, for this Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

52 Projects Week 3: I made this Bread!


Have you read, or heard of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? A friend loaned me this and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, both by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg

The basic premise is to mix one large batch every week or two, and then pull from it to make a fresh loaf when wanted, and it works! I've made bread before, but not often due to lack of time and lack of satisfactory results. This bread tasted bakery bought.

Can you tell I'm excited? It got me dreaming of summer, eating it fresh along side other freshness from the garden; Caprese salad, fresh pesto and bruchetta..mmmm, you get the picture.