Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mermaid Outfit

A couple of weeks ago, Jamie C asked me to crochet a mermaid outfit for her yet-to-be-born baby. This evening, I completed it.

I'm really concerned about how small the outfit is, even though the pattern I bought stated it's for newborns. I've just never actually held a newborn baby (maybe my brother, 30 years ago), and I have no concept of how small they can be. Well, if it doesn't fit the child, at least they'll have an outfit for a doll or stuffed animal.

**A special thank you goes to Pooh Bear, for stepping out of his comfort zone to model this for me**

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Results Are In...

I had the follow-up on my sleep study today and the doctor said I do not have sleep apnea. Yeah! She did say there was some moderate snoring (you think?). So, doctor's advice? Loose some weight, get more sleep, and use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant. Easy, right? Maybe the nasal decongestant part...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

Earlier this week, Tom asked if I would be cooking something this week and requested that I make a dessert - maybe a banana cream pie, so today I worked on a recipe I found on the Food and Wine magazine website.

Banana Cream Pie

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves, melted and strained
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons light rum
  • ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 ounces chocolate curls
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt. Add the butter; pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. In a bowl, combine the heavy cream and vinegar; pour over the crumbs and pulse until moistened. On a floured surface, knead the pastry 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fit the round into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhang to ½ inch and fold it under; crimp decoratively. Refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Prick the crust with a fork, line the pastry with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until set. Remove the foil and beans. Press down any air bubbles and bake for about 8 minutes, until the pastry is golden; transfer to a rack and brush the bottom and sides with the preserves. Let cool.
  4. In a bowl, mix ¼ cup of the milk, the egg yolks and vanilla. In a saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Add the remaining 1 ¾ cups of milk and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Add the butter and stir over moderate heat until thick and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk about half into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve set over a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the rum. Press a piece of wax paper on the custard; refrigerate until chilled.
  5. In a small glass bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water; let stand until softened. Microwave on high until melted, 15 seconds; cool. In a bowl, beat the cream with the superfine sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of rum and the melted gelatin until soft peaks form. Arrange the bananas in overlapping layers on the crust and pour the custard on top. Tap the pie on the counter so the custard settles. Spread the whipped cream on top, and using the back of a spoon, make deep swirls. Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours. Garnish with the chocolate curls and serve.
Tom gave it a 95 out of 100! His three criticisms: a little too rummy, no bananas on top, and it kind of started to melt in the heat. I don't recall ever having banana cream pie before, so I was expecting more banana flavor, but overall I thought it was good. And I didn't think it wasn't too rummy - but I drink a lot more than Tom does.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Granny Square with Circle Center

This evening I completed the first part of Week 5's assignment in the Granny Square Sampler Afghan.

What took so long to finish these? Last week I cut my thumb while preparing dinner, so I had to take it easy. Hopefully it's better now, even though my cut started to bleed a tiny bit towards the end.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fire Grilled Steak

Tonight I made Fire-Grilled Steak, from the May 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Fire-Grilled Steak

  • 1 (1-pound) beef flank steak
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 5 teaspoon(s) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium bulbs fennel, cored, cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • ½ cup(s) fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup(s) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoon(s) red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon(s) capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed with press
  1. Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling on medium. Sprinkle steak with ¼ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper to season both sides. Use 2 teaspoons oil to brush both sides of fennel and onion slices; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  2. Grill steak, covered, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare or until desired doneness, turning over once. Grill onion alongside steak 7 to 9 minutes or until tender. Transfer steak to cutting board; let rest 10 minutes. Transfer onion to bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop mint and parsley; place in medium bowl with vinegar, capers, garlic, 1 tablespoon water, and remaining 3 teaspoons oil. Stir to blend.
  4. Place fennel on grill. Cover; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, turning over once. Toss with onion.
  5. Thinly slice steak. Serve with fennel, onion, and vinaigrette.
I thought it turned out well. The meat turned out well, as long as you realize it isn't the most tender piece of meat. Tom said it still had good flavor, which it did. The fennel (or maybe it was anise) was surprisingly good. It had a very mild licorice flavor, which was unexpected. And I enjoyed the viniagrette a lot. It reminded me a lot of bernaise sauce, which I just love. I think it was a successful meal, with new ingredients and flavors.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Place Markers

When I walked in to work this evening, Julie said she had a project for me. I thought, "Okay, what needs to be cleaned now?" Then she said it had to do with fabric and I thought, "Okay, so how many napkins do I need to fold for this wedding tomorrow?" A little later, she explained the project. There's going to be a wedding on the lawn tomorrow, and yesterday, at the rehearsal, the bridesmaids didn't quite know where to go, so using three fabric napkins that were samples the restaurant had received, and some bamboo skewers, I was tasked with making place markers that we could stick in the ground to mark where people needed to stand. Julie said I could make a flower or a bow, just something to mark the spot. She mentioned that their centerpieces were glass vases filled with golf balls and topped with hydrangeas, and I had my idea. I tried to look up some ideas on-line for how to make fabric hydrangeas, but the winning idea came from a class I took at Silver Bella by Betz White where we made felted wool flowers. I cut out circles of fabric, folded them, and stitched them together, to make the markers.

(Please forgive the flash)

I'm pleased with the way they turned out, and everyone who saw them thought they turned out great. Julie thinks that the bride will go crazy over them - I just hope she likes them.

Granny Square V Variation

Week 4's squares for the Granny Square Along are complete!

I'd thought I'd only finish one of the squares, since I started crocheting after I got back from band practice, but Tom kept on watching TV, and the time went by so fast. When he finally decided to call it a night, I was almost finished with the last square, so I stayed up a little bit longer and finished it. I was a little bit iffy of this pattern to start with, the first couple of rounds didn't sit flat, but it worked itself out in subsequent rounds. I can't wait to get started on the squares for Week 5.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Variation Granny Square

I completed week 3 of the Granny Square Along.

This is the first time I've made any kind of variation on a granny square (still being relatively new to the craft) and I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I guess my biggest disappointment is that the squares aren't laying flat. I'm sure there's a way to compensate for that, I just don't know what it is. Hopefully, when the afghan is put together, they'll flatten out a bit, and the random color choices will blend in with the rest of the project.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Granny Squares with 3 Rounds

Well, I've completed Week 2 of the Granny Square Along.

Things are coming along nicely, and I hope that this is a project that I'll be able to finish (which is a rarity for me for a project this size, and with no deadline).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July 2012

Happy Fourth of July! I hope yours went well, mine was busy, as well as enjoyable.
The day started out early for the band’s usual three parades: Dundalk, Towson, and Catonsville.

Flutes and Piccolos, before Dundalk parade

We survived them, even with the reported 103° heat. I finally learned how long each of the parades were; Dundalk – 6 km (3.7 mi), Towson – 1.4 mi, Catonsville – 1.1 mi. We played “On the Mall” and “Swingin’ Doodle Dandy,” as well as the “Baltimore Fight Song.” I still didn’t have the music completely memorized, but sometimes, it was so hot, I forgot what little I did have memorized.
After I got home, I cooked a dish that I’d been planning on for about a week, Herbed Pork Medallions from the May 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Herbed Pork Medallions

  • ½ c. packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 pork tenderloin (12 oz.)
  • 2 lg. carrots
  • 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg. (5 oz.) baby-greens-and-herbs mix
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat large saucepot of water to boiling on high.
  2. Finely chop one-third of parsley. Rub chopped parsley and rosemary all over tenderloin and let stand while oven heats.
  3. Fill large bowl with ice and water. Add carrots to boiling water. Cook 5 minutes. With tongs, transfer to ice water. When cool, remove with tongs to cutting board. Add asparagus to boiling water. Cook 3 minutes or until bright green and crisp-tender. Transfer to ice water. When cool, drain well.
  4. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper all over pork. In 12-in. ovenproof skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil on medium-high. Add pork; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until evenly browned, turning. Transfer to oven. Roast 8 to 10 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 155°F; let rest 5 minutes.
  5. While pork cooks, cut carrots into 2-in.-long matchsticks. Cut asparagus into 2-in.-long pieces. In large bowl, toss carrots, asparagus, radishes, green onion, baby greens, and remaining parsley with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper as well as remaining tablespoon oil. Add balsamic vinegar; toss to combine. Divide salad among serving plates.
  6. Slice pork; arrange on top of salads.
It turned out really well. The pork needed to be cooked a little longer than the recipe called for, so that it would be more than medium, but that’s how I like it. The dish was really fresh tasting, and was great for a hot day, like today. It was also filling, it made four servings. Tom loved it, and said it was the best thing he’d ever tasted. He loved the different components; the crunch of the asparagus, the different way of cutting up the carrots, the fresh flavors. He wondered if maybe using a steak, instead of pork, would improve the dish, but I told him that the pork had such a mild flavor, that it was able to showcase the flavors. Either way, I’ll count it as a success.
I also crocheted a little before finally hitting the sack. Wanda turned me on to a Granny Square Along, inspired by a Granny Square Sampler Afghan from a 1982 Better Homes and Garden Treasury of Needlecrafts.

I learned about it in week 7 of the summer-long project, where different size and style granny squares are crocheted each week. It sounded fun, and I think I’ll be able to catch up relatively quickly. I completed week 1 this evening, and so far, I’m pleased with the choices I made for colors.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Havre de Grace Parade 2012

The Havre de Grace parade today was the worst parade in I have ever experienced! And that’s saying a lot. It was just sooo hot. And on top of that, I didn’t have my music memorized :-( The highlights were, as usual, seeing people I know from work, and this year, I did something different. Some of my coworkers, when they heard I was going to be in the parade, asked me if I’d throw candy to them. I would remind them that I was in the band, and we don’t throw candy. So, just to see if it was possible, I found some candy at home and put it in my pocket so I could throw it at them. It worked! I only had enough candy for three throws, but it was fun.
After we finished marching, I joined Mel and the gang along the parade route to watch the rest of the parade. The funniest part of that was the guy from the National Guard who was walking down the street in his uniform, with his young son, pulling a wagon and doing some informal recruiting. The boy went to the wagon, grabbed some candy, and threw it at our group. Then he grabbed some more candy and was throwing it directly at me. By then, his dad had moved down the street a few feet. The boy went to the wagon, grabbed some more candy, and threw it in my direction. Then he grabbed some candy, walked back in front of me, and threw the candy at me again. I now have a baseball cap full of candy due to this young man :-)
After the parade, I went to Mel’s house for her annual cookout. There was a lot of good food (and a bit of alcohol). Regulars from the Tidewater, as well as coworkers who had the evening off attended the party, and it was a really nice time. In addition to the usual picnic type foods, Steve steamed a bushel of crabs and Amie steamed shrimp. It was really nice to hang out with friends outside of work. I left around 8 (before the fireworks) so that I could get to the hospital for a sleep study to test for sleep apnea.

Overall, it was a good day.