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Monday, October 31, 2011

Iron Craft 43: Wooden Doll Matching Game

The challenge for Iron Craft last week was to do something that scares you, try something new. I didn't have to think too much about this one. I always buy unfinished wooden things from the craft stores. In the store I can envision them all painted and pretty.

It is an entirely different story when I get home. I quickly decide that the natural wood is so beautiful that it would be a shame to mar it with paint. Really just an excuse because I am too intimidated to paint it. I do not have a steady hand when it comes to painting or even drawing. I can usually get half of the lines to look good and the other half has smears and lumps and bumps. The more I try to repair it, the worse it gets. So painting wooden things scares me.

Now, I've been reading a wide variety of blogs. I usually start by chasing down an interesting quilt or holiday idea and end up staying to poke around and see what else the blogger does. I came across a blogger at Gluesticks who intrigued me and I started going back in her archives. She had made the cutest little matching game for her daughter out of.... unpainted wooden parts! Perfect. It was cute. It would be a great addition to the toy basket for the little girls who visit on Friday mornings. It was scary. I had my project.

Amazingly enough it was pretty straight forward. I painted them with only a few lumps on the neckline. The smudges in their hair actually look like I intended them to mimic the hair. I got some funky bubbles on their faces when I sprayed on the glossy sealer. I don't know if that was temperature, poor spray technique or a reaction to the pigment pen I used to draw on the faces. I only managed to make three of them, but I will the rest done soon and I might just try painting something else. Perhaps all of those unfinished wooden cars and trucks and boats and planes that have been decorating the spuds Christmas tree for the last 20 years.

I know I am very late to the game, but you can still check out all of the other scary Iron Crafts over here on Just Crafty Enough.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Eyeball Soup

Reposted here as part of my on-going effort to grasp the wisps and straws of my recipes from across the blogosphere and collect them all in one place.

Yup it is that season when we start to figure out how best to gross out neighbors and friends. Why scary and gross are essential elements of Halloween is not entirely clear to me. I always associated it with storybook characters and princesses [yeah right --ed] But now that my house is dominated by tweens and teens gross reigns supreme. So this year on the menu for our annual Halloween party will be buttered brains and eyeball soup.

The idea for Eyeball soup is straight out of Martha Stewart. In fact her recipe can be found here. But that version just sounds disgusting and I really don’t like cream of tomato soup so here is the version stewing in my cauldron this year.

About 1/4 cup diced carrots
About 1/4 cup diced celery
About 3/4 cup diced onion

Saute in a tiny bit of olive oil until soft and translucent but not browned.

Add garlic to taste
1 or 2 cans vegetable broth
1-2 cans water
2 big cans crushed tomatoes

Simmer. Season with black pepper, additional garlic, salt and basil.

Taste. Here is the key part. Every can of tomatoes seems to have a different level of acidity. Likewise with the carrots and onions. Sweet carrots and sweet onions can offset the acidity of the tomatoes. But… They may not be sweet enough. You may have to adjust with a TINY amount of brown sugar. You are not trying to get sweet soup. You want to reduce the acidity. Go slow. Add a bit and taste. Add again if needed. I usually end up adding 1-2 Tablespoons of brown sugar but sometimes I need more and sometimes less.

Once you get the taste right put the soup through a food mill in small batches. Be careful if you are working with it hot. Food mills are not as stable as they should be. You can use a processor, stick blender or blender but I like the smooth texture I get from the food mill.

At this point the soup is done and can elegantly served with croutons made of toasted French bread brushed with garlic and olive oil with a little gruyere cheese melted on top. (Or melt in a dab of butter as one relative does.)

However… since this is gross-out time we need eyeballs. A couple handfuls of pearl onions should do nicely. Heat through. Serve with fingers. (Above gruyere croutons cut into finger-like strips.)

Oughtta be gruesome enough for the ghouls around here.

Update 10/24/2005: This was submitted for the Carnival of the Recipes. The schedule for upcoming Carnivals is posted here.

I went searching for an image to post with this recipe and discovered that there are about a bajillion ways to make or fake eyeball soup. Who knew?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Working, Working, Working: or Watching Paint Not Dry

I hadn't planned on it but I've had the opportunity to join in two additional shows this Fall for a total of three. That has meant a lot of extra crafting time.

I've been having difficulty with my sunpainting. Instead of drying in 8 - 10 hours like usual, they are taking a day or in some cases two days to dry. There is no way to speed things up without messing with the movement of the paint and that can mess up the prints. Even with leaving them to dry completely, I am not getting good prints. It is very frustrating, particularly with the additional shows.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Internet Blues

I've been essentially off-line all week. Spud 3 rigged something up to allow me to post. Actually he did it so I could look for brick fabric that can be rush delivered so I can make him a costume for Monday. Guess I'd better do that before the wires pop or something. I'll try to get pictures of my work this week and my Iron Craft project up soon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

A partial repost, in an attempt to collect all of my recipes from the far reaches of the intertubes and post them all in one place.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Save all the seeds and guts from your carving adventure. Carefully separate the seeds from the orange goo. This can take a while, but time spent here is worth it. Rinse the seeds in cold water several times until the water is clear and the worst of the guts have gone down the drain. Stir in salt. I use Kosher salt until you have a kinda slimy salty pot of seeds. Spread them in one layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 250 F until all of the water is dry and there is a salty crust on the seeds. Test one. They should be lightly toasted and not have that “green seed” taste. It is OK if they get brown. You decide on the degree of doneness. Let ‘em cool and eat, if you can wait that long.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: Caramel Corn

My dad always made what we called candy corn when we were kids. It was nothing more than hard candy poured over popped corn. I'll share his recipe another day. This recipe is from Grandma's collection. It is different from Dad's in a couple ways.

As written:

1/2 cup syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 t vinegar
1/4 t salt
1 t butter
1 t soda

Mix sugar, vinegar, syrup, salt, butter and bring to boil. Stir constantly. Boil gently to hard cook in water (290o) Add soda mix well. Pour over popped corn and stir to mix well.

Notes. The syrup would be a Karo or corn syrup. Since this is called caramel corn and since the sugar is not 'burnt' I am guessing she would have used dark corn syrup.

I am a bit puzzled by the vinegar/soda part of this recipe. That is a standard technique for making the candy foam and is used in things like peanut brittle. It may be used here to expand the sugar so it coats the corn better. It may be worth some experimentation.

One more note... It is a good idea to sift or scoop out as many unpopped kernels as you can before you add the syrup.

As an aside... This recipe is written on a small piece of paper that is torn off a perforated pad. I remember playing with paper like this and being fascinated by the perforations.

And some comments from my sister when I asked her about the vinegar and baking soda.
Peanut brittle has the baking soda but not the vinegar. When it is hot, the baking soda bubbles up and I think it makes the candy lighter. That is probably the case with the vinegar and soda in the caramel corn recipe. You don't want to break a tooth and since the temperature control was iffy on a wood stove, that may have been a solution. Dad did not do it that way. He didn't even take it up to caramel temp., probably because it could get too hard - that's why we had pink or whatever color "caramel" corn!
There could be another reason: for nutrition, it might be the vinegar was a source of vit C or something necessary to prevent disease and they added it to everything - especially the Germans!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Iron Craft 42: Imaginary Friends

Here is a bit more about my imaginary friends from the previous post...

This is Mildred. She loves to dance with joyful abandon.

This is Irene. She is a bit more inhibited than Mildred but she is bound and determined to do her best to keep up. She finds that a nip of bathtub gin sometimes helps. Besides, she'd like very much to catch Jack's eye.

This is Jack, the sailor. He dances a jig and keeps all the ladies guessing as to where his wondering eye might land. He has a buddy Arthur who is hiding having just dumped the contents of his flask into the punch bowl. That is most likely the reason everyone is just a bit fuzzy at the dance tonight.

Frank and Evelyn are here too. They are too busy working the farm and too tired keeping track of the kids to join in the dancing so they are watching from the sidelines.

Frank is holding Frances who would love to jump down and join in.

Evelyn has baby Walter in her arms. She is so tired she fades into the wallpaper. But she does enjoy the music.

Their son Harold is hiding behind the curtain. He saw Arthur at the punchbowl and is wondering whether to try some. He has his slingshot behind his back.

Just so you can really see the whole family, here is a picture of them in the wheat field from earlier in the year.

Thanks for coming to the dance. Drive safely on your way home. Frank, I think the horses know the way so you won't have much trouble. Mildred and Irene are going to need a little help getting the Model T turned over, but I am sure Jack and Arthur will assist.

For more Imaginary Friend fun check out the entries at Just Crafty Enough.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Craftster Swap Items

I decided to join in the Friends of Craftster Raffle. It has been very exciting and intimidating to see the best projects my fellow craftsters have posted. I decided to stick with what I know and make some fabric and some badges.
Looking at the pink/purple fabric, I am thinking that I might just use that as my entry for this week's Iron Craft Challenge. The challenge is imaginary friends. I think the people in that fabric might just count as imaginary friends. I love the flapper stencils and think I need to make the rest of the dance troop.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: Crunchy Fudge Sandwiches

Today's recipe is a newspaper clipping. It was published in The Blade Sunday Magazine on March 8, 1970. There is a copyright date of 1969 for the Kellogg Company. It is clearly part of an advertisement for Nestle morsels and Rice Krispies.

1 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) Nestle's Butterscotch Morsels
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal
1 tablespoon water
1 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) Nestle's Semi-sweet Morsels
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine

1. Met butterscotch Morsels with peanut butter in heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat.
2. Add rice Krispies cereal; stir until well coated with butterscotch mixture. Press half of cereal mixture into a buttered 8x8x2 inch pan. Chill in refrigerator while preparing fudge mixture. Set remaining cereal mixture aside.
3. Combine chocolate Morsels, sugar, butter and water in top of double boiler; place over hot water and stir until chocolate melts and mixture is well blended. Spread over chilled cereal mixture. Spread remaining cereal mixture evenly over top. Press in gently. Chill. remove from refrigerator for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Yield: about 25 1 1/2 inch squares.

Translation: Nothing to change here. I would make them as written. I do remember Grandma making these for almost every potluck and occasion. She always packed them in a round tupperware dish. I rescued that dish and gave it to my cousin for Christmas one year. I put in a bag of marshmallows because I also had the handwritten Rice Krispies treats recipe. My cousin let me know that no marshmallows ever entered Grandma's Rice Krispies cookies. Now is know what she meant. I will have to send her this one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Iron Craft 40: Bones

Time for some Halloween fun! I saw this project in a magazine a long time ago. It was probably a BHG publication. I couldn't find it on-line but I will be happy to provide the proper attribution if you let me know.

All you need is a bunch of lollipops and a roll of crepe paper.

Twist crepe paper around the tops of four lollipops. The better you cover them up, the more bone-like your bones will look at the end.

When you get the end of covering the last lollipop, start twisting the paper around the sticks to wrap them tightly together.

Take the two sets of lollipops and wrap them together.

Keep wrapping until the sticks are completely covered and the center is thick and looks like a bone. You can usually just pull the crepe paper tightly around the back and it will stick. Since I hand these out to the trick-or-treaters, I secure it with a tiny bit of tape.

Different sizes of lollipops give you different sizes of bones.

Check out more Iron Craft projects at Just Crafty Enough

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grandmas's Recipes: Frisch Strawberry Pie

It looks like Grandma was into the whole copy cat recipe thing. I am basically posting the recipes as I pull them out of the box. The last few have all been restaurant favorites. This one is no different. Frisch is Frisch's Big Boy restaurant, the local Big Boy franchise. I believe she got the recipe from my sister who worked there in the seventies.

As written:

Frisch Strawberry Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
pinch salt
1 sm package strawberry jello
1 1/4 qt strawberries

Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. Cook til thick and clear. Add jello and dissolve. Cool til thick. Pour over berries in crust.

I am pretty sure you can use this one as written. I don't know of any change in the size of the gelatin packages and I'm not sure it would be critical if there were slight variations. The 1.25 quarts of berries is an odd number, but I am sure that is what made a heaping pile in grandma's pie plate. The berries were washed and hulled but not cut into pieces.

This pie used to be one of my favorites. We would only get it in the early summer when the berries were ripe. This is a good pie because the berries are fresh and whole and not cooked. It does need to be eaten in a day or two as the crust will get soggy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Iron Craft 39: Thread Jar and a Bizzare Haunting

This week we were challenged to make something using a glass bottle or jar. I don't think the chairman is going to be very excited about my offerings this week. First I thought I would use a cracked pitcher and make a wee ghostie for it like Homemade Mama via Craft Gossip. I couldn't come up with a good plan for eyes and I need to break out my fimo to make wee feet which won't happen this week, so a bad copy of a good idea.

I decided I needed to make something a little more creative and a little better quality. I had a lovely spaghetti jar sitting on the counter and a pile of scrap fabric from a project I am working on. I simply decoupaged the scraps to the jar intending to use it as a thread keeper for all the embroidery thread that comes off my machine. Not so much here either. As usual the pictures tell the truth. Oh well. The joy of Iron Craft is that there is always next week.

Scoot on over to Flickr to check out all the really cool projects from this week. And keep an eye on Just Crafty Enough to see the full gallery and next week's challenge.

Update: Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement on my kindergarten art this week! I decided to take your suggestions and start over.... sort of. I now present.... the hippy mummy jar thread collector! If you look closely you can see the threads he has already collected while sitting as scraps of batting on my craft room floor!

Maybe I'll give him one of those electric candles so all his hidden hippie goodness can shine through! OK, stop me now before I craft again!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grandma's Recipes: Orange Julius

As written:

Orange Julius

1/2 of 6 ounce can = 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
5 or 6 ice cube

Combine in blender till smooth about 30 seconds. Makes about 3 cups.

This one is pretty straight forward. The only thing to note is that her ice cubes would have been the big square ones that came out of the aluminum trays with the lever to separate the cubes.

The Orange Julius is likely one of the precursors to today's smoothie craze. As far as I remember, Orange Julius was a covered mall phenomenon. It was one of the first food stands inside the newfangled indoor malls which started opening where we lived in the late 60's or early 70's. Getting an Orange Julius to sip on while strolling around the shops was a very special treat. There was something about them that was just a bit different. I remember trying many times and many ways to recreate them at home. This was one of those knock-off recipes that circulated at the time. The ones I tried were never the same. I'll have to try Grandma's version to see if it is close. Amazingly enough there is an Orange Julius shop at the local mall where I live now so I'll be able to do a comparison.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


What a long strange weekend. I ran support for Boy Blacksmith at a gamer's convention. That meant packing up all his merchandise, picking him up from school and running him back and forth to the convention site an hour away. He had good show. He used our Square for the first time. That made a number of sales possible. He is on his way back to school now. The house is back to its usual dull roar of gaming systems and I am able to get back to my sewing machine. But first I have a bunch of things to add to the shop. I'll check in again later. I've got some more interesting recipes from Grandma's box and a teaser on a swap project to share.