Friday, June 22, 2012

Pork and Potato Curry

Now that I'm home most days I try to have dinner ready so that when Reid and Sam get home we can either sit down and eat or go for a swim and then eat. (FYI, the best kind of neighbor is the kind with a pool! Hi, Gina!) Since we've been doing the swim thing a lot I've cooked a couple of stew-like things that you get going in a pot and then leave to simmer. I made something the other night called Ground Beef Stew, which I realize does not at all sound appetizing but honestly it's my favorite type of food, hearty, warm, and super easy. I didn't have any V8 so I subbed in a can of tomato soup and all was well. Also no green beans because frozen green beans are yuck so I used frozen peas instead. All in all it was super tasty with some cornbread and Sam gobbled it up.

So I had also taken some pork chops out of the freezer and was trying to figure out what to do with them last night. I had a bunch of small red potatoes so I googled "pork potato recipe" to see what might come up that would let me use up some of the potatoes before they got soft and started growing things down in the cabinet. Mostly I got a lot of curry recipes which works out well because I had most of the ingredients on-hand. I used this one as a base and then tweaked it myself. There are no pictures but here's the best description I can give of what I remember doing differently.

Pork and Potato Curry - version 2.0
1 lb. pork, cubed (I trimmed the fat off 4 boneless pork chops and cubed that)
1 can diced tomatoes, don't drain
1 small onion, diced (I used Vidalia but it doesn't matter)
6 or 7 red potatoes, diced
3 tbsp of mild curry paste
dash of coriander, cumin, dried mustard, curry powder, garlic powder
1 can coconut milk
3 or 4 tbsp honey
salt and pepper

1. Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. At this point I sprinkled the dashes of dried spices over the onion. I used a 1/8 tsp to scoop the spices out but they were by no means level.

2. Add curry paste to onion and stir, heating paste through.

3. Add pork and sauté until edges are browned. You aren't trying to cook it all the way through, just getting a crust on the outside.

4. Dump in tomatoes, juice and all. Add potatoes. Stir until everything is coated with spices.

5. It's at this point that I added the coconut milk. I had it in the cabinet and thought it would make a nice addition but you can just use water or chicken broth if that's what you have on hand. I added the entire can but mostly you just want to cover the potatoes so they can have enough liquid to cook.

6. Simmer for awhile and then give it a taste so you can adjust the seasoning. It's at this point that I gave a generous salting and then some pepper. It still needed something else so I gave a good drizzle of honey. I also had only originally used one tablespoon of curry paste but added two more at this stage so I would say go ahead and use three in the initial sauté.

7. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Serve with rice and naan if you have it.

So Sam wasn't a huge fan but that could have been the crackers he filled up on at the pool. Reid enjoyed it which is saying a good bit since he's not a big fan of Indian food. I served it with jasmine rice that I cooked with some peas in it for color and I warmed up a few pieces of naan bread in the oven. The potatoes got really creamy and the pork became really tender the longer it cooked. All in all it was pretty tasty.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blackberries, A Preview

This is not a real post. BUT it is foreshadowing what I will be posting on in the next week or so. I went home to Mississippi this past weekend and guess what, it was blackberry season! My dad and I picked a big basketful on Sunday, and now I have to do something with them in the next few days (other than just sit around stuffing my face with them, that is). So the baking will commence shortly. In the meantime, tell me this doesn't make your mouth water:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chenille Baby Blanket

So awhile back I saw a link somewhere, maybe Pinterest, maybe blogland, and it was a link to Aesthetic Nest's Heirloom Cut Chenille Baby Blanket. It's pretty spectacular looking and seemed relatively easy to do. So I waited for a reason to make one and I finally did it!

I'm not going to go step by step or anything because she does an awesome job at that. I will, however, post a few notes just to help folks along since I felt a little less than eager a few times during the process.

  1. You don't HAVE to purchase the slash cutter, but I would recommend it. I cut a couple of rows with scissors after I realized the cutter wasn't going directly down the center of my rows and my hand was cramping within minutes. The slash cutter just makes the whole cutting part of the process go faster and let me tell you, there's a lot of cutting to do! I bought this cutter from Joann's and used one of their many 50% off coupons on it.
  2. I didn't make my own quilt binding. Call it laziness, I don't care. Making bias tape is not easy despite what some people lead you to believe and you need a lot of it for this project so save the homemade stuff for something else. That did mean that my quilt had wider binding but it didn't bother me. The thin stuff does look good though so maybe next time. I bought two packs of this quilt binding in Oyster.
  3. DO NOT TRIM UNTIL YOU'VE FINISHED SLASHING! This is a mistake I made on the first half of the blanket. I'm impatient (ask my husband) so I stitched all the lines on the first half and then cut them open because I wanted to see what it looked like. I made the mistake of trimming the edge so the fabric all lined up because I thought it would be easier to get the slash cutter in there. Big mistake. Stitching comes undone. So wait until you slash the whole thing to make all the edges neat and tidy. Which leads me to my next suggestion.....
  4. Start each row of slashing by cutting a few inches with your scissors. I did this after the first few rows of cutting and it seemed to help the slash cutter get going to not have to break through selvage edges and such. It only takes a few minutes for this extra step and it's not completely necessary but I thought it made a difference.
  5. Don't give up. About half way through I could see all the mistakes I was making and how not straight my lines were and I thought "there's no way this is going to turn out good." But it does. 
  6. Buy lots of thread. And I mean lots! I bought some of that tonal orange-yellow thread because I couldn't decide which color looks best and I had to go back and buy more because one spool was most certainly not enough. So overestimate and save yourself a trip.
  7. Remember, all of your stitching and cutting and basically the entire project is done on the bias. If you hate working on the bias then don't bother. The fabric shifts and shimmies and is basically a big old heavy pain in the booty. So if bias=no bueno for you then this is not a project for you!
  8. Do your stitching with your pretty fabric side up. The ruffles will hide any imperfections on the flannel side so you want to make sure the pretty side looks nice.
  9. Experiment with layering the flannel in different orders. I chose to sandwich the bright color (yellow) between the two more muted colors and I like how it turned out. I saw a few from Aesthetic Nest's flickr group that I wasn't crazy about but might have liked if they would have changed the order of the flannel. 

And without further ado, here are some pictures! No peeking, Amie!

I had to add this pic so the first pic wasn't of the blanket. Isn't he a cutie?

Half way through with all the cutting. I stitched and cut one half and then stitched and cut the second half to break it up a little.

You can see where I used the scissors to get my slash lines started. 

The slash cutter I bought at Joann's. Definitely worth it.

Slash cutter in action. The small blue piece in the background is for slashing curves.

Stiched, slashed, bound and ready for the washing machine!

The finished product!

Look at those pretty ruffles!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Vacation!

Per Alyda's suggestion, I'm writing a blog post.

No need to explain where I've been, right? Let's just get on with the fun stuff.

There are so many crafty things I've been putting off doing the last couple of months. I'm working on a sewing project I started a few weeks ago and I'm about 1/3 of the way finished but I can't reveal it since it's a gift so you'll just have to wait on that one. Now that I've finished the first Hunger Games book (did either of you read those? Sooo good.) I can probably get it finished in a few hours. It's not difficult, just tedious.

One of the other big things that's been neglected lately, besides the blog :), is cleaning. My floors are begging for a good clean so I'm starting with the living room rug. It's just a basic rug we got on sale at Home Depot a few years ago but with no padding under it and two 150 lb. dogs sleeping on it it has definitely seen better days.

I've pushed everything off of it and I'm about to go sprinkle baking soda all over to help remove some of the doggy smell but I'm wondering if I shouldn't invest in a carpet pad while I've got it exposed. Do you use that carpet powder that smells nice or just baking soda? Or nothing? Sheila, you've got big dogs. How do you keep your house from smelling like a kennel?

One of the things we love about this house is there was no carpet anywhere. But it has also turned into one of the things I hate. Part of me desperately wishes we had installed carpet somewhere, even just the bedrooms, but knowing how bad Reid's allergies are and seeing as Sam is probably in the same boat it just doesn't seem like an option.

So my question for you ladies is this: Do you have anything under your area rugs to make it a little more cushy or do you just avoid the area rug thing altogether? I've tried the cheap rubber mat things and they don't seem to make any difference at all so I'm thinking buying a piece of carpet foam and trimming it to fit is my best choice.

Off to sprinkle and sew!