Paul and Cori

Things we love: cooking, photography, crocheting, reading, math and board games.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hand tips

When I first started crocheting, I got hand cramps easily and often. I didn't have a comfortable way of holding the yarn, or the hook.
Then I learned a yarn holding trick from my mom. I figured out the whole process was more like driving than tug of war. When driving you don't grip the steering wheel, you hold it steady and lightly. Same here.

So here are a few hand holding tips to make your crochet easier and more smooth if they help you out.
Hold the hook in your dominate hand. I hold mine like a pencil.
 Weave the yarn through your non-dominate fingers; index to pinky, over under over under. I keep the yarn near or above my middle knuckle; my mom keeps hers all the way at the bottom of her fingers, this is all about your preference- whatever is comfortable for you.
Keep working yarn (ball) farther on the non-dominate side, so it's not crossing your body.
As you are working the first row after the chain foundation, hold your work lightly through your hand with your dominate ring and pinky fingers just until it's big enough to easily let go. While at the same time holding the chain you are working in with your thumb and index finger to pull up your next loop.

As you continue to work, the yarn should easily flow from the ball (I frequently create some slack to work from) through your weaved fingers and to the crocheted piece you are working. One smooth motion of yarn.  

So, if these tips are helpful to you, please leave a comment, and I will continue to give my little tips. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Colorful Art

I made some color wheel art with some of my photographs. I love them. They are bright, fun and can help teach kids colors. They can bring out the accent colors in any room decor and even though they are full of lots of colors, they won't clash. 
I am working on getting back into creating for myself and for my etsy shop. This is my first listing in a long time! I made a lot I surprise gifts for a lot of people, and made more in my head. Now I want to make things for myself, my home, my family, and my etsy shop! I hope I get some sales (of course!) but I not, at least I'm trying. Stay at home mom doing what I can! Woohoo :) 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2 day pork soup

This is a slow cooker extravaganza! 

First put a big pork roast in the crock pot. Add some yummy spices to the top, and some water (and possibly some wine) to the bottom. Cook on low for a long time, 8-9 hours. Get some nice big buns to toast.  Pull off some pork and add BBQ sauce (or don't) and have pulled pork sandwiches. I like mine with cabbage or slaw or radish relish. 
Julienne radishes, cucumbers, and pickled ginger-done! 
After dinner, remove bones and extra fat chunks from the crockpot, store a large portion of the pork in a container for more delicious sandwiches, and leave about a pound in the crockpot juices, stick the whole thing in the fridge. 

At some point roast a bulb of garlic on 350-375 for about an hour. Cut off the tops, add olive oil, and wrap in foil. 
(Or you can just throw garlic cloves in the crockpot the first day). 

The next day, plug the slow cooker back in; this time you will only need to cook it for about 3 hours. 
Add napa cabbage, bok choy, or any hardy green to the crockpot, maybe add more liquid too- I added 2 cups of water and 1 cup of wine. 
Fry some minced ginger (I used about 2 inches) in olive oil and add it in. (This is another place you can add the garlic- mince it, fry it with the ginger and add it in). 

After about 3 hours, scoop some soup in a giant bowl, add yummy fresh toppings- bean sprouts, jalapeños, green onions, basil. And you have crockpot pho! I put cooked rice noodles in my giant soup bowl before I scooped on my soup, I also added sriacha. Yum, yum. 

This whole process provided dinner for us all week, but you can also freeze the broth or some of the pork for use later. 

After the pho type soup, I made another soup with beans, carrots and rice. Again slow cooking for about three hours. There was still napa cabbage in it as well. It worked well for a cold winter week of dinners. 

What's next? My little garden. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is all about love. Paul and I usually spend a bit more on food than we normally would, and make a fancyish dinner together. That is our plan this year as well. 
When Valentine's Day is in the air, I think I see hearts all over more than usual. So here's some heart love for you. 

I also make more heart things. Kat is cupcake crazy! So of course there are cupcakes involved. 
Dye some of the batter with food coloring, put 3-4 drops on each cupcake using a medicine syringe or a small spoon, drag a toothpick in a circle through the center of each color drop to create the heart shape. Bake as directed. 

• I may have put my drops a little too close to the edge. A little nearer the center would be better, I think. 

Then I made a heart with blocks (the current favorite toy) to try to take some cutie Valentine's Day pictures. 

Because Kat is 2, she wasn't so into the idea. 

Then I bribed her with a cupcake. 
Good job, Kat, thanks!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! 

What's next? Smoked turkey. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Spice

Winter spices are amazing. They are strong and warm and wonderful. 

My rice milk worked perfectly in my pumpkin pie! 

The winter spices came through much more than with the rice dream I used last time. And I used local maple syrup, literally made right down the road from my sister's farmhouse. 

I also used this syrup to make Paul's maple candy for his stocking for Christmas. 

So now to the good stuff. 
My homemade rice milk test pumpkin pie! 
I made a pie crust. It is by no means healthy in anyway. Shortening, salt, and all purpose flour. 

Stir in a bowl, 
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tea salt, 1/2 tea cinnamon, 1/2 tea nutmeg. 
With a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup shortening. I still use 2 butter knives because I don't have a pastry blender, until the pieces are pea sized.
Stir in 1/4 cup ice water, I use a fork, just until you can make a dough ball. 
I smooshed my crust into the pan. It's hard to roll a shortening pie crust that isn't super cold. But cleaner on the counter too! Ice water, refrigerated shortening and refrigerating the dough in plastic wrap (and letting it warm up a little when redy to use) can help make it easier to roll, but as this is a one crust test pie, I wasn't concerned. 

Heat oven to 425*
Mix pie filling in a bowl. 
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 cup rice milk
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tea cinnamon 
1/2 tea ginger
1/2 tea nutmeg
1/2 tea allspice 
1/2 tea salt
Just stir it all together and put it in the pie crust. 

Bake at 425* for 15 min. 
Reduce heat to 350* this is the time to cover the outside crust so it doesn't get too brown. 
Continue to bake for 50-60 min until knife inserted in center comes out clean. 
Cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator. 

At Christmas time we also made winter spice infused bourbon. 
Vanilla bean
Brown sugar simple syrup

A sweet, spicy punch of holiday cheer. Winter is indeed coming! 

What's next? Valentine's Day shenanigans. 

Homemade rice milk

After my huffy post about sunflower oil in rice milk, my sister asked if it's possible to make rice milk. I had never even thought about this possibility before, but lo and behold, it is not only possible, but easy! 

Cooked rice and filtered water in a blender. That's it! It tastes like it sounds-rice water, but as my plan is to use it mostly for cooking, I think it will be perfect. And you could add flavor by adding vanilla or chocolate syrup before drinking. 

1 cup cooked brown rice. 

4 cups filtered water
I added the water about a cup at a time so it wouldn't sploosh out the top of the blender. 

Blend! For 1-2 minutes until smooth. 

This makes 1 quart of milk. Shake before using, it really separates. 

Voila! Rice milk.

To test this rice milk, I decided to make a pumpkin pie! I love pumpkin pie. And winter spices in general. So... What's next? Rice milk tester, pumpkin pie. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Toddler Fun: Homemade Play dough!

Play-Doh is so much fun! But it gets too hard too fast. Especially for little 2 year old hands! So today, Kat and I made play dough, problem solved! 
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tea cream of tartar
Stir in a pan with 1 cup water
1 Tbl oil (veg or olive)

Cook on med-low for about 5 min. Stir often until mixture is more doughy, stiffens and pulls away from pan. 
Stir in food coloring and 
10-20 drops lemon essential oil. 
Lemon essential oil adds a nice happy smell, it is revitalizing and uplifting. So even toddlers in their terrrrible twos may soon be in a better mood! 

Let cool for a couple minutes. 
Knead dough for a couple minutes. 
I added a little more lemon oil in a thumbprint hole in the dough because I wanted a stronger smell, I think by the end I had 20 drops. 
The dough was really sticky at first. I kept rolling it in flour and squishing and kneading until it wasn't sticky anymore. 
Store in an air tight container. 
And have fun!

Kat played with her play dough in a giant cardboard box- fun, clean, and less cat hair and rug fuzz to contend with. The homemade play dough did leave some oily spots on the cardboard box, but it's totally worth it for the low cost and high fun!
I think this amount of dough would be perfect for 2 colors. I only did one, but to make 2, just divide the dough in half after the essential oil step. Add the color in thumbprint holes and squish and knead it in until it's incorporated. 

For a gluten-free alternative use a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of rice flour and cornstarch. 

Play dough too dry? Add oil. 
Play dough too sticky? Add flour. 
Play dough too stinky? Add essential oil. 

What's next? Funny Toddler pants! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Outer Space!

I am fascinated with space. With full intension of buying a telescope asap. Kat is also very into the moon, so I wanted to incorporate space into her bedroom somehow. Welcome to her outer space corner. Complete with solar system mobile, 

Star lights, glow in the dark star stickers,
And galaxy rug! 

I just finished the stars for the rug 😀

I think it's a pretty good beginning to a space corner! 

2/3 update on solar system. Yesterday Kat and I got some sparkly star stickers. Today I added a few constellations to her walls. The Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, 
(Since the Little Dipper has the North Star in it, I made that with 2 stars together. 

And I tried to get the two as close to similar in the sky to each other as I could.)

and the Libra constellation. Pretty cool!    

I love the addition of these constellations!

What's next? In crochet: Blanket redo!