Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sheet-Pan Meatballs with Lemon Yogurt and Onions

The reason to make these sheet-pan meatballs and chickpeas is for the flavors.  It's got several steps and components to the meal (unlike sheet-pan chicken which blew my mind with its simplicity and flavor, and so far no sheet-pan meal has topped that).  

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and tweaked it a bit to make it even easier.  As is the case with sheet-pan meals, we all loved it, so that's an incentive to go through a few extra steps.  I also like how meat is present here but not dominant. 

Besides the meatballs, chickpeas, yogurt, and onions, we also had steamed broccoli and French bread. I have some big kid appetites to reckon with. 

Also, the yogurt with salt, pepper, and lemon juice was a real revelation. I've since salted and peppered plain yogurt a few times just because it was so delicious. 

Sheet-pan Meatballs and Chickpeas with Lemon Yogurt and Onions

Mix and set aside (I did this in early afternoon and kept it in the fridge until suppertime):
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne, more or less, to taste

Prepare the lemon yogurt and lemon onion toppings and set aside. 

1 cup plain yogurt
zest and juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
few grinds fresh pepper

half a large onion, sliced thinly
zest and juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
few grinds fresh pepper

Now to cook! On a sheet pan, combine:
3-4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. ground cumn
1 tsp. turmeric
half a large onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt, pepper

Toss to coat.  Roast at 400F for 25 minutes. Form 1" meatballs while the chickpeas roast. Place meatballs on top of chickpeas after 25 minutes are up, and roast again for about 15 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Serve hot with lemon yogurt and lemon onions.  Bread or pita on the side is really great. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Something stylish but not fashionable"

"There's a certain type of woman who is always dressed in something stylish but not fashionable, expensive but never ostentatious, exquisite yet hard to place: some thoughtful, meticulously cut piece of clothing that channels the contemporary moment while remaining aloof to trends." - Amanda Fortini in T, December 2017

Now that sums up some dressing goals for me! Except for the expensive part. 

I've never been trendy, but I do love clothes and looking nice.  I've found I can wear trendy skinny jeans with some more off-beat, whimsical tops and that looks current.  I also adore plaid and polka dots, which are generally classic and trend-proof.  And I try to wear on-trend shoes, which is not easy because I have big feet and almost always have to order shoes online (try on and return, try on and return - the expense! sigh). 

Are you "stylish but not fashionable"? What are your tips?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Meadow-Stripe Mittens

Phoebe had her mitts from last year, but now that she is so big, she is out of the stroller and down on the sidewalk needing to pick things up.  That is hard when you don't have your thumbs! So I made her some mittens. I figured if I could knit socks, I could surely do mittens. 

The pattern, World's Simplest Mittens, has the ribbed cuff being knitted with size 0 needles, which felt like knitting with flexible toothpicks.  And the resulting cuff is almost too tight to get over Phoebe's hands.  I think the idea is that mittens would fall off without a tight cuff, but since I put them on an I-cord, that's not an issue for Phoebe. So I'll remember that for next time.  I also found the decreases confusing at the top of the mittens, and the mittens don't lay flat the way I think they should. 

The yarn is called Meadow Stripes by Patons, and I adore the colors and how the mittens are fraternal, not identical, twins. 

Phoebe also adores her mittens and handily picks up any old thing she finds on the sidewalk; we've now had lessons in What Phoebe Can Pick Up (basically, sticks and pennies).

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wonderful Lettuce as a Wonderful Side Dish

I have eaten lettuce as a side dish for lunch for 6 days straight now since I read about this in the newspaper last week.  I regretfully cannot quote the writer or article, because most of the article was about the French vinaigrette she fell in love with and took years to re-create at home.  But she did mention that she puts excellent olive oil, flake salt, and fresh ground pepper on butter lettuce and it's so good it doesn't need vinegar.  

This is a game changer!  No tedious salad prep! No emulsifying a vinaigrette! I adore green salads, but I consider them kind of a production.  I wash and dry the lettuce, chop and shred some veggies, sometimes toast some nuts, make a dressing or vinaigrette if there's not one sitting in the fridge, and hope for leftovers so I can have some for lunch the next day.  

But!  If you simply pull some lettuce leaves into a bowl, drizzle with your best olive oil, sprinkle with some flake salt and fresh pepper, stir, and oh-my-goodness-EAT IT, it is wonderful and fast and I can have it whenever I want!

I am extremely fortunate to have local farmers who grow gorgeous, organic lettuce year-round in their greenhouses or hydroponically; their lettuce is clean enough to skip the washing and drying steps, hallelujah. 
My favorite serving dish, from Grandma Weaver.
When I steam broccoli or something like that, I sprinkle it with salt and pepper and give it a slick of butter or olive oil when it's done.  So that's what's going on with the lettuce here - that's why I call it "side dish lettuce" instead of a salad.  

You could add vinegar or lemon juice if that's what you do with your steamed broccoli (and then you could go on to add other veggies. . . and you've got salad). I am just thrilled for the simplicity that allows me to assemble side dish lettuce in the 33 seconds it takes to microwave the toddler some lunch. 

You may also be interested to see this study by the Center for Disease Control that ranks vegetables and fruits according to their nutrient density; leaf lettuce outranks kale, collards, cabbage and others as a nutrient-dense powerhouse vegetable.  Hooray for lettuce!

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Bright Wool Wrap Skirt with a Kilt Pin

I bought this wool from my favorite thrift store: 3 yards of soft, pure wool in a gorgeous plaid for $5.  Amazing!

I was a little nervous to cut into it, but you can see that I did in this post.  And I matched the plaid by making sure I laid the bottom of the pattern pieces on the same stripe in the plaid. I decided to line the skirt to make dressing even easier and wearing even more comfortable (I hate when my slip and my skirt/dress don't move in the same way so that I'm conscious of two separate layers - lining eliminates this!). I used a navy lining fabric from JoAnn's and simply made a duplicate skirt.  The waistband facing at the top holds the lining in place, as does my handstitching at both sides.  I left the lining hem free of the skirt hem.

The kilt pin is pretty and also functional when you have kids crawling across your lap randomly.  I'm still debating if I should put belt carriers on the waistline like the pattern calls for.

Thanks to the deep green in this skirt, I'm having a new color crush.  I don't know what it looks like on your monitor, but it's a deep jewel green.  Like cobalt blue is to navy, this deep green is to the 80s hunter green.  It's lively.

I bought this elbow-sleeve sweater at the thrift store for $3 and got it home to realize it was kelly-green. So gauche next to the deep rich colors in the skirt. So I dyed the sweater! 

The sweater in these photos was overdyed with Rit Dark Green #35. I did it the Saturday night before I wore it to church, while Ben and a friend roared through the dishes (nothing broke, just the silverware drawer spilled over the floor, so I took the opportunity to clean the silverware tray while the sweater simmered on the stove).  And the girls shrieked in and out of the kitchen, and I told my husband I was dyeing a sweater, and he said, "I'm impressed, but not surprised."  Isn't he the best?  I flopped the wet sweater on the radiator overnight, and wore it (I confess) smugly to church the next morning.  And these whimsical green gems that I bought from an opera-singer neighbor years ago finally have an outfit!  I still have some wool plaid left:  maybe I can get one of my girls to wear a matching skirt.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Best Jobs for Toddlers

I found a great job for Phoebe and she agrees (key point of this being a great job).  I let her stand on the stool (important!) in order to pinch off the eyes of the storage potatoes.  She can't really break the potatoes or the basket I keep them in.  She can see her progress, and this is a truly useful way to keep our potatoes nice. 

Other best jobs for toddlers?  Phoebe has lots of energy to spare!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Candles From Old Scraps

I play a little game where I try to reduce the trash we produce weekly. Our volume is a little high right now because Phoebe wears disposables overnight, but I'm looking at the big picture.  We have an excellent recycling program in the city, and often our recycling bins are fuller than our trash bins. 

I wondered if I could do anything with this big pillar candles that burn through their wick in the center and leave behind a heavy chunk of wax for the trash.  I did a little research and successfully made some new votives!

Supplies I used:
wax from old candles 
a metal coffee can + a saucepan to make a water bath to melt wax
small paper cups
candle wick string
container to hold candle molds while I poured

I put all the old candle chunks, wicks and cinders and whatever included, in the metal coffee can and set it in water in the saucepan over low heat.  Stay in the room while you do this - liquid wax is a fire hazard! Once the wax was totally liquid, the impurities went to the bottom.

I had set up my little votive molds by greasing the paper cups, and putting the wicks in the middle by punching a hole in the bottom of the cup, knotting the wick underneath, and then tying the wick to the toothpick at the top.

I set the molds in a newspaper-lined tray, and poured the hot wax in each mold. You can see that I did two color batches.  The votives hardened fairly quickly, but also left a sinkhole in the middle of each votive.  Since I made these just for winter evenings for us, I don't care, but I'm sure there are ways to prevent that sinkhole. 

And the votives burn very nicely! So I've started collecting scraps of wax and candles again in a bag for an easy, thrifty project that reduces our trash volume and keeps the house bright. 


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