Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemade Halloween Banner

Yay for discount Halloween fabric! I saw a Halloween Banner Tutorial on Ribbon Retreat a month or so ago. I loved the idea but I am super cheap so I wanted to wait to whip it up until all the Halloween fabrics went on sale. I love all the fabrics I scored, and all for 50% off. The tutorial over at Ribbon Retreat is pretty straight forward. Here's my 2 cents. To make the pennant shapes I used some chipboard pennants I had hanging around my studio. Since they are thick, I was able to just use the rotary cutter and whip them up in no time. Also, make sure to do a little pre-planning - measure your mantle or area you plan on hanging it and figure out how to space the pennants evenly so you end up with a uniform look. If you can do basic pinning, measuring and sewing, you can pull this off. Next project? I got some discount Christmas fabric ahead of time and I am getting ready to make banner #2.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ethiopian Feast (Mostly Vegetarian Dishes)

I adore Ethiopian Food. My husband is not such a big fan. I am always begging to hit up my favorite Ethiopian place every time we are in the city. It's just not his thing. I have been intimidated with the idea of making Ethiopian food at home, but I finally got a craving bad enough that I just decided to go for it. Surprise, surprise. My first attempt at Ethiopian food was actually better than anything I have ever had in a restaurant. Mr Bucket even liked it. I'm not a culinary genius but I am a good researcher. I poked around the net and found a great combination of recipes. It takes a lot of burners and a lot of people to eat this much, but I have made all of the following dishes for one dinner. Everything is vegan with the exception of Tibs. I am a vegetarian but my husband isn't so I throw together Tibs to suit his carnivore needs.

Injera Bread
Ethiopian Green Salad
Ethiopian Tomato Salad
Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes
Yellow Split Peas with Turmeric
Berbere Lentils


Berbere - this is really similar to Indian Garam Masala and a key component in Ethiopian cooking. A lot of the spices are the same as Garam Masala but the ratio is different. Berbere is hot and heavy on the chiles (oh baby). If you can find a premade blend, go for it. I couldn't find any that was readily available, so I just make my own. This recipe from Marcus Samuellson is spot on:


2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns
1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice
white cardamom pods
whole cloves
1⁄2 cup dried onion flakes
dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded, and broken into small pieces
3 tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. In a small skillet, combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast spices over medium heat, swirling skillet constantly, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
2. Let cool slightly; transfer to a spice grinder along with onion flakes and grind until fine. Add chilies, and grind with the other spices until fine.
3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Injera - without this amazing, sour, delicious bread, Ethiopian food would just be some spicy stews. Injera is traditionally made with either straight teff flour or a blend of teff and wheat. For a lot of people, this is the most intimidating part of making Ethiopian food. I have always heard about cracked injera, dry injera, uncooked in the middle injera. The injera recipe/technique I found from Yum Universe is awesome! It's all teff flour (Bob's Red Mill makes one that's easily found in the health food section) so it's all gluten free. I have used the Yum Universe method both soured overnight and using baking powder to make up for not souring. If you have the chance, I highly recommend giving it a chance to get sour. The flavor is much more developed and the rise on the injera is perfect. The real secret to injera is covering the frying pan with a lid to let the bread steam. I use a glass lid so I can really see what's going on. It does take a little practice to see when it's just right. Just breathe and know that the first one is probably going to suck, just like when you make pancakes.


Large glass bowl
Cheesecloth, muslin or kitchen towel with a thin weave
Parchment paper
1 1/2 cups teff flour
2 cups pure water
1/2 tsp baking powder
Coconut oil for pan (**I don't like the flavor of coconut on injera so I just use veggie oil)
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Check out Yum Universe for a full run down on technique. The photos are really helpful and way better than I could explain here.


Both of these salads are basic but a perfect cold, crisp balance to the hot saucy dishes. I make both salads every time I make Ethiopian food. Recipes from The Toronto Star
1 tbsp (15 mL) each: extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (**I prefer Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) each: fine sea salt, black pepper
tomato, halved, thinly sliced
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, cut lengthwise, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded if desired, chopped
In large salad bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, ginger, salt and black pepper. Add tomato. Whisk gently. Add lettuce, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Toss well. Serve immediately.
2 tbsp (30 mL) each: extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar (**I prefer Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 tsp (5 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, minced
jalapenos, seeded, minced
In medium bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, ginger, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Stir well. Serve immediately.
Hot Dishes
If you haven't had Ethiopian food before, these are all a bit like curries but less saucy. I always make the Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes since they are really hearty. If I don't make the full meal, I pick between the split peas and lentils. It is worth making both but sometimes I am in a pinch on a work night. All of the recipes come from the Toronto Sun with the exception of Tibs, which comes from the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.
1/2 cup (125 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, peeled thinly sliced on diagonal
2 white boiling potatoes, peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp (15 mL) puréed fresh garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) pureéd fresh, peeled ginger
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each: turmeric, fine sea salt, black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) water
8 to 10 cups (2 to 2.5L) chopped, coredgreen cabbage
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add carrots. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover; Cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add cabbage and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. (Don’t let it burn.)
1 cup (250 mL) dried yellow split peas, washed
1/4 cup (60 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, finely minced
1-1/2 tbsp (22 mL) each: puréed fresh garlic, puréed fresh, peeled ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
3 cups (750 mL) water + more if needed
3/4 tsp (4 mL) fine sea salt, or to taste
Optional garnish:
Thinly sliced jalapenos with seeds
Finely chopped red bell pepper
Place split peas in medium saucepan. Cover with water; Bring to boil over high heat. Boil 5 minutes. Let sit in water until ready to use; drain.
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in turmeric, then drained split peas. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 3 cups (750 mL) water.
Raise heat to high; bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed, until split peas are very soft and stew is thick and not soupy, about 30 minutes. Taste; season with salt.

3/4 cup (185 mL) canola oil
1-1/2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) berbere spice blend, or to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) puréed fresh, peeled ginger
2 tsp (10 mL) puréed fresh garlic
1 cup (250 mL) dried red lentils, washed
3 cups (750 mL) water + more if needed
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fine sea salt, or to taste
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions. Cook, stirring, 8 minutes. Stir in berbere, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add lentils. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add 3 cups (750 mL) water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often and adding water if needed, until lentils disintegrate and mixture is a thick stew, about 30 minutes. Taste; season with salt.


1 large red onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup niter kebbeh (spiced butter) or ghee (**I use oil since my husband is dairy allergic)
2 pounds beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons berbere
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, broken into bits
1 to 5 green chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos
1/2 cup red wine

Get the saute pan or wok very hot. Stir-fry the onions without the butter for a few minutes, until they char just a little on the outside. Add the spiced butter and the beef. Stir-fry hot and fast until the outside of the meat is brown but the inside of the meat is still very rare. You need to do this on as hot a burner as you have. The moment the meat has browned, add the spices, garlic and chiles. Stir-fry another 30 seconds or so, then add the tomatoes and the wine. Toss to combine and let this cook for a minute or two. Serve at once with bread or injera.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Use Advantage for Dogs on Cats (aka Bucket & Red Have Fleas)

FML. The little ones have fleas. I am really lucky with this, but Red and Bucket rarely get fleas. The other morning I went to pet Red and found a lil flea buddy climbing up his ear. Ugh. So, I went digging for the Advantage. It has been ages since I had them on it and all I could find was Makena Greyhound's (pouring one out for my homie who's left us) Advantage. I certainly couldn't put a dose for a 75 pound grey on a 15 pound cat, but I did remember the vet saying that we could use the same meds if I poured them out and used a syringe to get just enough kitty dose. There's no point in rewriting all the instructions, so check out the link below. It worked like a charm and I have a ton of medicine left over to use for next month. Check it out,,,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Honey Fermented Garlic

This couldn't be more simple. Get some garlic and put it in a jar. Cover it with layers of alternating garlic and honey and let it sit. Just make sure it's all covered in honey. I got a giant bag of pre-peeled garlic and a vat of honey from Costco. If I had to peel all of the garlic I might have said forget it, but this was so easy. I got the idea from Attack of the Killer Pickles. I don't think this will get so frothy that I need to use an airlock, but we will just have to see. I am going to just try burping it from time to time. I have to wait at least a month, so I will get back to you with an update when it's om nom nom time.

PS - I left the jars open last night with just paper towels over the top. The garlic smell actually woke me up this morning before my alarm did. This is gonna be some awesomely pungent stuff!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gluten Free Peach Upside Down Cake

Ok, I will hold my head high and just freakin admit it...part of this came from a box. I am normally a scratch baker but since finding out about my Celiac Disease a year ago I feel like I am back to the baking drawingboard.

I am not ready to experiment too much just yet, but I am feeling comfortable with a little box cake doctoring.

This is my bad boy (or girl) of choice:

I have tried a few other products that have really fallen short on texture and flavor. I like beans but I am not crazy about them in desserts so the garbanzo bean flour mixes have been pretty meh in my experience. This is primarily rice flour but it has a nice mix. It's not so heavy on the rice that it reminds me of Mochi. Another good option for yellow cake mix is Gefen brand (available at Whole Foods).

Ok so back to the point. Let's make a cake. Here's what you need:

GF yellow cake mix
Ingredients listed on cake box
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
1 T vanilla
1 t butter
1/4 t cinnamon
Peaches (at least 5)
8x8 or 9x9 pan

Start by making a sauce on the stove with the bourbon, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla and butter. It is easy to burn the sugar so stir it nonstop. You want it to bubble and melt the sugar but not burn and taste like ass. The syrup will thicken more as it cools.

Pull your sugar mix off the burner and give it a chance to cool a bit while you cut the peaches. Cut them thin and layer them as close together as possible (without touching) on the bottom of your greased pan. 

Pour your sugar mix over the peaches making sure that it covers all of the bottom of the cake. 

Pour in your cake batter (per the instructions on your mix). Toss in more peach slices at random to give some surprise peaches throughout.

Bake according to the instructions on the mix. Make sure to check your cake in multiple places to assure it's truly done. The extra moisture from the peaches and sugar syrup will most likely mean a slightly longer baking time.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vineyard Salad

It was just one of those perfect sunny but not too hot Summer days that leaves a glow on your skin and makes you want to spend time in the kitchen and garden. 

I made 2 great salads. One was just a simple Burratta caprese with basil and tomatoes from our garden. The one I am sharing today was heavily inspired by Toni Bark's Perfect Summer Salad recipe. Please check out the original too. This is my take on it.

First of all I think this salad is best plated up so you can pick and choose a little bit of everything in every bite. Besides it just looks bad ass.

Mixed baby greens
Beets (steamed)
Champagne grapes
Fennel bulb
English cucumber
Apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
Olive oil
Roasted garlic
Maple syrup
Sweet & Spicy Pecans (Trader Joe's)

1. Cut endive in half and brush lightly with olive oil. Throw on a hot grill. Let it get some nice grill marks but be careful not to let it burn. I put mine aside for it to cool.

2. Plate 2 handfuls of mixed baby greens. Top with blueberries and Champagne grapes.

3. Thinly slice fennel bulb and English cucumber on a mandolin. Use the thinnest setting. Watch your fingers. That thing is crazy sharp.

4. Slice avocado

5. Arrange the components around the edge of the plate including a bunch of Champagne grapes. They are so tasty.

6. Throw the following in the blender for some delicious dressing: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, 2t Dijon mustard, 2t roasted garlic, 1T maple syrup

7. Just before serving add several spicy pecans and a drizzle of dressing. Enjoy!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Greek Blueberry Melon Salad

For me summertime is all about the Farmer's Market. My friend Doe and I wait for it to start up again every year. Saturday morning is all about getting our market bags and hunting down the cheese lady and the gluten free bakery lady.

Yesterday. I stumbled into a Farmer's Market at, of all places, the mall. It was small but they had a great blueberry vendor. She had the most enormous blueberries I have ever seen. The variety is Chandler and unlike most blueberries that are large they are sweet and not watery or mealy. I have got to find these to plant in my garden!

So, I have a potluck to go to tonight and was thinking that I have got to showcase these little guys. I was brainstorming making a watermelon and feta salad originally. Hmm...and I have fresh mint going crazy in my garden. You can see where this is going.

I really love how this turned out. The melons give sweetness, the mint a nice herby flavor, the feta a rich saltiness and the vodka just a touch of bam.

Greek Blueberry Melon Salad

- 1/2 watermelon 
- 1/2 honeydew
- 1/2 Tuscan cantaloupe
- Handfull of fresh mint
- 1/2 cup
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup watermelon juice
- 1 shot vodka

Ball your melons (yeah that does sound fabulously dirty). Keep a bowl handy as you work to pour off excess melon juice. Combine melon balls, blueberries, mint and feta. 

Using a small kitchen strainer strain the seeds and stray chunks out of your melon juice. Combine strained juice with vodka and sugar. Pour vodka mixture over the top and toss.

If you are not eating immediately the mint and feta may get a little soggy. Just combine the melon juice and fruit and add the others just before serving. Enjoy!

Ideas: I also was thinking I could add a drop of mint essential oil to the juice mixture. Maybe swap out mint for basil? Switch the vodka out for flavored vodka? Strawberries instead of blueberries? Lots and lots of option here

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homemade Toothpaste: Hardcore and Softcore

Ready for some serious oral (cleansing) action? Let's make some toothpaste!

I have been using Earthpaste for quite awhile now and absolutely love the product. Unlike most commercial toothpastes this is made primarily with salt and clay. No weird foaming agents, glycerin or additives. It's great stuff but almost $9 a tube and I have to drive 20 min to get to the store that carries it. No es bueno. So why not DIY it? Yay!

I ordered some Go Gear Tubes on Amazon for just $10 for 3 tubes. These are those great silicon tubes that can be refilled with shampoo or conditioner for travel. I love the idea of making my own toothpaste, but I really want to keep the experience of squeezing a product from a tube. Frankly at 6am I am not that coordinated and I want easy. This works perfect for toothpaste.

There are lots of articles out there about various things to add to toothpaste for cleansing, remineralizing, whitening, antibacterial action, etc. I don't want to get long winded about it, so if you have an interest in all the science behind the ingredients, Google and Wikipedia away or just click on the ingredients below to get more info. These are the ingredients that are common in many healthy homemade toothpastes:

-bentonite clay
-baking soda
-sea salt
-tea tree oil
-DoTerra On Guard
-coconut oil

I have made 2 versions of toothpaste now. One has salt and baking soda and one does not. I can handle the flavors of both but I know they can get to some folks. The more palatable version I keep for gift giving and for my husband who can't stand baking soda. I enjoy the more hardcore version because I want the extra benefits and can handle the taste.

Hardcore Homemade Toothpaste

1 teaspoon melted coconut oil
1 Tablespoon bentonite clay powder
10 drops each DoTerra On Guard essential oil blend and Tea Tree Oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xylitol
1 ounce (shot glass) purified water

Softcore Homemade Toothpaste

2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
3 Tablespoons bentonite clay powder
10 drops each DoTerra On Guard essential oil blend and Tea Tree Oil
1/2 teaspoon xylitol
1 ounce (shot glass) purified water

For both toothpastes I melt coconut oil in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then I simply mix all the ingredients together with the exception of the water. I like using a little cheese or butter spreader in a small ramekin to push the clay against the sides and squeeze out any lumps. Add the water in stages as the last ingredient in order to achieve the desired texture. One ounce may not be quite enough, especially for the Softcore version, so just add and mix until it works for you. Store in tube or mason jar.

- since the Go Gear Tubes comes with 3 tubes I have the smallest one for travel and the largest for daily use.
-make sure to mix new batches regularly since there is water in the mix and no heavy duty preservatives
-expect that there is a little getting used to with a toothpaste that doesn't foam and looks like you are brushing with dirt. It's all good
- I am not much for multi-level marketing, but I do love DoTerra's products. If you don't have a distributor locally you can just sub OnGuard for more tea tree oil or another oil that is safe for internal use. If you need a contact for a DoTerra distributor drop me a message and I would be happy to get you in touch with a friend of mine. The OnGuard really is pretty awesome.

Disclaimer: I personally make, use, test any products or recipes I am recommending. Although I have had no problems with allergies, etc, please know you are using this at your own risk. The FDA doesn't evaluate me...blah. blah, blah. Just don't come after me if you aren't happy about something. I am just some lady on the internet who may or may not know anything.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Hippie Nutbutter

I visited a farmer's market in Portland a few weeks back and got some great cashew butter. We tore through it super fast. The ingredients were cashews, flax seed, sunflower seed, canola oil & agave. I was inspired to give it a go myself. How hard could it be?

It turns out homemade nutbutter was fun and dead simple. I scoured my bulk section at the health food store and got a good mix of nuts. I threw them in the food processor with a little honey for sweetness and some coconut oil for texture (canola oil is not that healthy). Here's what I put together (and for less than $5 !!) :

Homemade Hippie Nutbutter:

1 cup each unsalted:
-flax seed
-sunflower seeds
2 T coconut oil
To taste: sea salt, raw honey

Put in food processor and blend until desired texture is reached. You may want to stir batch every so often while processing. Store in the fridge and use somewhat quickly. It's fresh - no funky preservatives. Enjoy!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Easiest Homemade Laundry Soap Ever

I am Pinterest / DIY junkie so I have tried just about every laundry soap recipe ever. I even broke my favorite food processor trying to shred soap for a powdered laundry soap version. I have boiled soapy gloop on the stove. I have shaved bars of soap. I have put it in the microwave. I, my friends, have done it all. Many of the recipes work wonderfully but are quite a bit of work. I have finally got a super easy and cheap solution that takes 2 minutes to make and works great!

I am not so cutesy as to have a chalkboard labeled mason jar of laundry soap. That is for people with way more time on their hands. This is a part liquid and part powder recipe, so it won't go in one fancy package. However, if you are willing to have a bottle and container both in your laundry room, then this will work great for you.


box of Borax
box of Washing Soda
bottle of blue Dawn dish liquid

In one container blend 1 part borax and one part washing soda. I use a big Tupperware container. When you are ready to do a load of laundry simply scoop one Tablespoon and add to the wash on top of your clothes. If it is a particularly dirty load I will add 2 Tablespoons. Then I simply squeeze a thin stream of Dawn in a circle around the inside of the washer, also directly on top of the clothes. Yep, that's it. Couldn't be easier.

As an FYI I have a top loader, so I can't make comment on how this would or wouldn't work in a front loading machine. Also, this is something you are doing at your own risk. I have had no problems with washing clothes this way and have been doing it for months now. However, I don't have anything delicate or fancy so keep that in mind.

Happy Washing!!!!