Friday, February 1, 2019

Benjamin Bunny Hat

My grandson loves the Peter Rabbit and Friends cartoon and every time he watches it I think 'someday I will make Benjamin Bunny's hat!'. Being a much slower knitter than crocheter, and really wanting to squeeze in a couple of presents before Christmas, I decided to do a crochet version.

The colors of my hat are not quite accurate as I had this really plush apple green that I wanted to use. The hat would look great in any combination of colors, with or without the ears. It is a very thick and warm hat, and very stretchy, so should fit for quite a while!

It is very important that you make a gauge swatch before beginning this hat and adjust your hook size accordingly. A 15sc by 18 or so row swatch should do it. I measured it relaxed and unblocked to record the gauge, so you will want to do the same. I used Aran weight yarn for my hat shell, so got pretty big stitches from my hook/yarn combo. Keep that in mind as you are choosing a yarn and trying to match gauge. If you choose a Worsted Weight, you will most likely have to go up a hook size or two.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

General Tao's Broccoli Tofu

This dish has quickly become a favorite. It's surprisingly easy to make and very filling. Paired with some veggie spring rolls or a simple Asian slaw, it's quite an impressive dish for  company without keeping you all evening in the kitchen. This dish is pretty versatile, too. You can substitute any veg that you prefer- and cook it to your preference before adding the sauce. It  works really well with frozen veg if you are like me and hate running to the shops for fresh veg every few days.

I've been experimenting making my own Oriental sauces lately. For me, a store-bought bottle of sauce, besides being expensive and full of things I can't pronounce, always seems like too much sauce for one recipe but not enough sauce for 2 recipes so then the extra sits in the fridge for weeks until you forget how long it's been in there and are afraid to use it. So, basically, you've spent $5+ for a bottle of sauce and thrown away 30% of it. If you can make a gravy, then making a sauce is easy peasy. If you have yet cooked a liquid until thickened then it's probably time to start! 

As with most of my recipes, I have taken bits of recipes from here and there and adjusted to my liking or to the ingredients I tend to have on hand. Feel free to make it sweeter or tangier or spicier to suit your tastes! After making this a few times, I have toned down the sugar and the vinegar to get a less intense sauce. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Vegan 'Chicken' and Dressing

I went through the holidays really wanting to veganize a traditional chicken and dressing, but pretty sure someone else in the family would bring a vegan dressing to one of our many gatherings and did not want to step on their toes. As it turned out, nobody brought any vegan dressing or vegan stuffing so I went through the entire holiday season not having my dressing itch scratched in the least. I was also seriously off my cooking game recently and some of the dishes I made flopped or I ruined by falling asleep and letting them burn (I really shouldn't cook so close to bedtime!). The one thing that I contributed that people actually ate was a pan of sweet cornbread (see my chili recipe for that one), though my daughter said it was basically just cake. She doesn't care for my cooking in general, though, I think. Someday I will tell you how she adulterated my guacamole on Christmas. (haha)

So today, going into my last free weekend as the crochet orders have began rolling in again, I decided to tackle the whole vegan 'chicken' and dressing thing. Now or never, it seemed.

This took all day.

Seriously. I stood at the stove and stirred gravy until my back hurt. I am not used to making such a huge amount of sauce at a time and it takes a while to heat through!  In the future, I think I'd do some of the prep for this recipe the day before.

So... traditional chicken and dressing. It had been a while so I looked up a recipe to remind myself the ratios and the seasonings. This one is almost identical to how I remember it being made, though I am sure we never added eggs.  I based my amounts on this recipe, though I switched some of the combos. I made a gravy to take the place of  broth and cream soup and in my mind dressing has both cornbread AND biscuits in it. Next time I make this (now that I know it works), I will get more pictures, but for now I really just want to write this down before I forget what I put it there!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas Presents 2018

I don't have a great deal of time to make presents anymore, but this year I was determined to make that time. Clemmie had been asking me since April to make her a doll from her favorite movie and every time Sully watched Peter Rabbit, I think I really have to make that Benjamin Bunny Hat.

Clementine's favorite movie is Kiki's Delivery Service. She has a Studio Ghibli- loving mother, so it's not super surprising a 5-year-old American girl loves a Japanese cartoon from the late 1980s. She has a big Kiki picture on the wall of her bedroom that she has shown to me countless times and asked me all year 'When you finish this caterpillar/dog, will you start on my Kiki doll?' I finally began telling her it would have to be a Christmas present, and it was a promise I definitely had to keep. So I stopped taking orders this year early enough to give me time to make gifts... which began with a hat for Sully because Kiki really needed a lot more thinking time!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

5 Ingredient Vegan Crockpot Chili

5* Ingredient Vegan Crockpot Chili
*more or less

Here is my very basic vegan crockpot chili that uses canned/packaged ingredients and mixes up very fast and cooks all by itself. It is a nice, thick chili, unlike a lot of vegan chili recipes I have encountered that are sadly soups and not chili. Is it a Southern thing that we like thick, hearty chili? I don't know. But if you can see through it, it's soup, people. You can't see through all soups, but if you can see through chili, it's a soup. Just... you know... setting that straight from the beginning.

Now. There are fancier chilis out there- vegan, too- with fresher ingredients and no preservatives, so  are way better for you. I don't always have the time to cook a bunch of things before cooking the thing those things all go into. You probably don't, either. I also have no problem eating something borderline junkie once in a while. I hope you, do, too. If you don't,  please don't tell me about it. Sanctimonious vegans are unbearable. Vegans sanctimonious to other vegans is unforgivable. We are all trying to save the world here, after all.

Besides being quick, there is the added bonus that this can be made quite kid-friendly by keeping the spice down and the tomatoes less obvious. Then the grownups can add in some spice to their own bowl in the form of Tabasco or jalapenos or something - or just dress it up a little for the heck of it. I like some spicy mustard (which I have been questioned for) or some vegan cheese. My daughter likes vegan sour cream on top (which she has also been questioned for). Do you like anything on your chili? Someone once told me they like peanut butter in their chili. I don't remember who that was. That was probably the day I stopped being friends with them. Too weird even for me.