Sunday, October 31, 2010

I have ADD

Lately I can't focus on anything for very long. I've been going from project to project and can't settle my mind on anything. I started a painting. It's half finished. I knitted a pair of socks. These socks.

These are awesome socks. They're made from handpainted merino wool. And they feel amazing on your feet. And I intended to write a blog post about why I'll never buy socks again because of these socks. And then I got sidetracked. Again. I started a scarf. It's not done yet. I made a batch of homemade chicken soup.
I started dying curtains. I started dying fabric for various sewing projects. They're currently nothing more than scraps of fabric. I printed out tons of recipes and bought ingredients, which sat untouched for days. Finally, yesterday I baked a loaf of bread. I was so proud of myself, because if was the first time I've baked a loaf of bread not using my breadmaker. It's delicious. I used this recipe that I found on a blog from my local co-op. And it's probably going to be my go-to bread recipe from now on. It's soft enough to be sandwich bread. Honestly, I don't know how else to say it except yum. I mean, look at it. Just look.
I'm afraid this post won't be very useful to anyone. But I decided that to get beyond this stuckness, I just need to force myself to write. Every day. So I'm going to. I can't promise it'll always be entertaining. But I'll try. And we'll see where it goes.
On the wedding front, I'm basically boycotting. I did finish the sample version of the dress pattern. And I love it! (Sorry, no pictures yet.)
But in every other aspect, I'm boycotting everything and even rebelling against every decision that's been made so far. I thought about growing my own flowers. Except that in Wisconsin, that means I'd have to grow them indoors and it turns out that unless I can find someone to give me grow lights for free, buying them will cost me more than it would to buy the flowers wholesale.
It also turns out my bridal party is incomplete. A long story, but a huge blowup with one of my bridesmaids means there are now six groomsmen and only five bridesmaids.
We had settled months ago on the caterers we would hire, after I was talked out of cooking the food myself. But now I'm getting pissed off at that decision too. Why can't I cook the food myself? I mean really, I love to cook. What's wrong with cooking the food myself??? Honestly, I'm still hoping for eloping. But I know Josh really wants the party, and I don't want to take that away from him. But in the mean time, I feel like I'm not finalizing anything because I'm hoping I ultimately won't have to.
And I know I'm wasting time. Last week, my mom sent me a column she cut out of her local paper. Apparently one of the paper's columnists is getting married and she's documenting the planning process in her column. The one my mom sent was about how she just realized she only has eight months left and hasn't planned anything. I looked at the calendar, that clipping arrived right around the eight-month mark for my wedding. She's trying to tell me something. But I still can't commit. Like I said. ADD and stuckness. Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I've Cracked the Code!!!

So. I love hummus. Like, LOVE it. Like, if it was a choice between my fiance and never eating hummus again, it'd be a tough one... well, maybe that's a bit extreme but you see what I mean. I really like hummus.
Thing is, I'm really picky about it. The only kind I've ever really gone gaga over is Sabra. And that totally goes against my thrifty nature, to insist on spending $3 for a tiny container of the stuff premade.

So. A few months ago, I set out to figure out how to make the stuff. Disaster ensued. I tried so many different recipes that ranged in flavor and texture from inedible to eh... So I started researching and basically combined ideas from about a dozen different recipes and even more tips and finally got it. Seriously, a fully homemade, fully delicious, fully addicting hummus recipe.

Now, here's the thing... I used dried chickpeas. It's not essential, but in this case, I highly recommend it. And, really, considering how well both hummus and cooked chickpeas freeze, it's not so much work because you can make a bunch of extra and freeze it. Anyway, here goes.

3 cups cooked chickpeas (that'll be about 1 1/2 cups dried)
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup tahini
2 T. Canola oil
pinch salt

Start by soaking your chickpeas over night. Drain then and cook them in enough water to cover by about two inches. Normally, you'd cook chickpeas for about two hours, but in this case, I'm going to tell you 2 1/2 hours because you want them to be really creamy once you put them through the food processor.
When the chickpeas are finished cooking, reserve 2/3 of a cup of the cooking water and drain off the rest. It's VERY important to process all this while the chickpeas are warm so if you've cooked them ahead, you'll need to rewarm them in the microwave or on the stove.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine garlic, lemon juice, reserved cooking water, and chickpeas and puree for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add tahini and puree for about 2 minutes, adding the canola oil as it goes. Season with salt to taste.
There's a couple tricks at play here. First, grinding up the chickpeas while they're warm helps to mellow out the garlic a bit. And overcooking them gives them a smoother consistency once you grind em up. Plus, the starchiness of the cooking liquid helps with the creamy texture too.
Yeah, it's that easy. And you're welcome.

And of course, hummus is a dip... so you need something to dip it in... and for that, I made my first ever non-breadmaker bread... actually, it was skillet pita bread and I'm really proud of myself because it came out amazing.
Granted, it doesn't look like the pita bread you buy in the store (it actually looked a little more like naan) but anyway, yum.
I can't take credit for this one. It's this recipe that I got out of the September issue of Vegetarian Times and seriously. It's worth all the effort. I mean, take a look... yum. (and yes, I realize it's not round. Seriously, it's so good, I'm not even concerned.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lessons Learned, or, Why I’ll be sacrificing my Friday night

So. I’ve been working on a test version of the pattern I plan to use to make my wedding dress. Before I bought super fancy wedding fabric, I wanted to try it out on some basic cotton to make sure A) the pattern isn’t too uber-complicated (I hate using other people’s patterns to begin with, so when they get too complicated my eyes tend to glaze over and all the words jumble together) and B) I still like the dress once I’m wearing it.

But of course, being a thrifty kinda gal I can’t just make a dress for no reason. So I picked some nice funky cotton in colors I loved and figured I’d make it so I could actually wear it. And a couple weeks ago, I looked at the calendar and realized like, whoa, Widespread Panic shows are comin’ up crazy quick! (As I write this, crazy quick= tomorrow.) I decided what better occasion to crank out that dress for than to pretty up and get my groove on with JB and the boys... So I got to work. The pattern isn’t so hard, but there are some intricate patchwork pieces that need to be worked. So you need to be in the right frame of mind. Which is where the lessons come in.

Lesson number 1: Don’t drink and sew. For sure not one of my better ideas... but spontaneity happens and who am I to argue? I was groovin’ away on the dress one Saturday afternoon and friends started showing up... Not gonna kick em out... not gonna stop working... but the wine, now that was my downfall... next thing I knew, I drank the whole bottle and I’m spending my Sunday ripping seams... Seam ripping is the theme of this post in fact.

Which brings me to lesson number 2: Only sew when well rested. The pattern has a zig zag design at the bottom which is formed by a series of triangles sewn together into rows, and then the rows are sewn together to create the complete pattern... you get the right pattern by arranging the triangles in the right color order... which I did quite nicely. What I didn’t do in my sleep-deprived state last night was check to make sure I was sewing the final row onto the bottom of the skirt right side up. So now I have a beautiful zig zag pattern until you get to the bottom where it just looks like random geometric shapes... so I’ll be spending my lunch hour today ripping those stitches out... and there’s a lot of them. And since once I realized I had done it, I decided to stop working before I hurt myself, it means that in order to be groovin’ in a new dress by Saturday night, no night out for me tonight... I’ll be home, with my sewing machine and some tunes... but no wine, I swear!