Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Amazing lentil soup

This soup is so good!  I serve it with a crusty garlic bread good for scooping.

This is one of my favorite recipes- I cook it all the time.  Not only does it have a subtle flavor that has to be tasted to be appreciated, the ingredients are mostly pantry staples that I always have on hand.  Also, with only me and my husband, there are always leftovers for the next day! 

The source of the recipe:
The recipe was created by America's Test Kitchen.  This group of cooks and food scientists put out several magazine publications: Cooks Illustrated, Cooks Country, Entertaining... Each recipe has an accompanying article describing the finer points about technique and preparation, as well as explanations for ingredients used. 
The magazines are also completely advertisement free!

Where you can get the recipe:
You can find these monthly or quarterly magazines at some grocery stores, and certainly at a bookstore like Barnes and Nobles. 

Perhaps a better option for you is a monthly membership online, where you have access to all the recipes published over twelve years, plus handy tools, search options, etc.  You can visit their website or follow this link to go directly to the soup recipe. 
They offer a free 14 day trial!!

Why use America's Test Kitchen recipes?
I cook almost exclusively with test kitchen recipes.  Why?  The recipes have been, as the name suggests, tested so thoroughly, that they are almost foolproof.  Having cooked for almost 5 years with these recipes, I have only prepared two dishes I did not like.  I cannot recommend them enough!

From foreground back: dried lentils, bacon, diced tomato, thyme, bay leaf, parsley,
garlic, carrot, onion, balsamic vinegar,chicken broth, white wine
1: Crisp the bacon, render the fat
2: Add onions and carrots

4: Add lentils with salt, cover and
let them sweat
3: Add tomatoes and garlic

Add broth and water, let simmer
An important step- to get the right texture, process
some of the stew in a blender.

I encourage you to try this recipe;
I do not think you will be disappointed!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Downtown Las Vegas

Note the lack of paint on the roads here.
 That takes some getting used to!

These are some photos taken downtown Las Vegas.  This is where people used to gamble, before the large casinos that now occupy the strip. 

Even a parking garage can be extravagant.

The Golden Nugget, obviously!

At  night, this ceiling has videos and lights playing on it
(or in it?).  You can also pay to zipline over everyone's head.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pointy Kitty is so cute!

Pointy Kitty is adorable!

A few months ago, I was searching for something to make a little girl for her first birthday.  I was looking for a plush that was relatively easy to make, since I do not have much experience sewing stuffed animals.  I quickly found this amazingly cute (and free) pattern for the Pointy Kitty.  Pointy kitty is the design of Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls.  

It was very nice of Ms. Lang to offer this pattern online, and many people have made a Point Kitty of their own!  (google image search to see for yourself)

I used a contrasting gusset for the inner legs.  I also stuffed
Point Kitty very firm.

I could not believe how cute Point Kitty turned out!  I'm not really a stuffed animal person, but I want one of my own.  I think she would look just as good on a bookshelf as on a toy shelf!

I left off the appliqued pieces, and used pearl snap fasteners instead
of embroidery or buttons.

I think part of the appeal of Pointy Kitty (besides exuding adorable) is that she's so customizable.  The face can be stitched or appliqued or left blank completely.  The head (which is sewn on by hand) can be placed in many positions for different effects.  And of course fabric choices are almost limitless!  I recommend this pattern, even for beginner toy makers (like myself).  Happy crafting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A pretty petals holiday

Stack of completed clutches

For xmas this year I made every lady on my list a pretty petals clutch, featured in Stitch magazine's spring 2010 issue.  I have always admired this super cute pattern, designed by Rebeka Lambert, who has a shop (artsycraftybabe) on etsy.  I love her 'nanette' purse pattern too.

It worked out perfectly that I had in my stash six cuts of linen in the favorite shade of each of the six ladies!  Linen makes a great purse, and I just love those saturated colors.

So, in assembly line fashion, I begin pulling fabrics and cutting out each little 'petal' individually.  I used several sheets of steam-a-seam.

There were 180 'petals' to cut out in all- and almost no repeats!

After I cut out each petal, I layered them in rows, ironed them in place, and for extra durability, stitched each in place using a stipple foot. 

There were a few modifications I made to the flaps.  I omitted the buttons and made them slightly larger with a top-stitched piece of synthetic leather.

Peeling and placing the petals, with the
help of a latte
Pin, trace, and cut out

To make my flap more substantial,
I added decoratively stitched synthetic
leather to the fronts.
I stitched down each petal using a
variegated thread.  Been sewing for
years and never used variegated
thread- but loved the effect it gave

Detail of flap after assembly
All the ladies loved their presents.  I wish I had made one more for myself!

After I was done, I only had the men to worry about!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hello, Horizon!

Stack of Horizon magazines

After much thought I have fixed that the most appropriate subject for the first entry of this blog should be one relating to its title- "HelloHorizon". 
This title (also the name of my etsy shop) is a salute to my treasured collection of Horizon magazines, published from 1958-1978, by American Heritage.  This series, though technically a quarterly magazine, can be considered by its fans as much more than what is typically found on a modern newsstand. 

These magazines boast:
-Beautifully colored cloth-bound hardback covers
-Illustrations printed using the complicated/expensive photogravure process.
-Articles on the subjects of art, history, architecture, literature, theatre etc..
-Text written by some of the leading academics of the time

The cover of an issue with an illustration by the incomparable Erte

Where I got mine and where you can get yours:
I aquired my *almost* complete set, including the first edition, at a library booksale years ago.  It was the collection of a single owner, who obviously loved them and kept them in good condition. 

These books, though comparitively expensive for the time (a year's subscription of four issues would set you back $21 in 1961) are still not impossible to find today, and I often run into one or two stray volumes.  I would think a reasonable price to pay for one copy would be from $2-6, depending on the condition.

To Conclude:
These books have meant much to me over the years; they are beautiful, informative, inspirational, and so entertaining.  I often lament the lack of any such thoughtful, quality magazine today; one that is not cheaply printed and half full of advertisements, and I do not hesitate to recommend them to anyone for perusal, especially those interested in history, art, literature, etc...

An evening well spent- a latte, and a stack of Horizons!

As a final note, the American Heritage publishing co. has over the years produced many a quality book and magazine, including another favorite of mine, the American Heritage magazine, which focuses exclusively on American history.  Their website is worth a visit and can be found here.