Saturday, August 29, 2009

Craft Corner: For Eyes

I turned 40 this year - and like clockwork the gray hairs sprang forth from my scalp with a vengeance, and my heretofore 20/20 peepers began to fail me. After one particularly eye-opening book club meeting there was no denying that I, Lara Starr, needed reading glasses.

The plus sides of both of these signs of mortality is that they are opportunities to accessorize. Hence the somewhat saucy shade of red I'm currently sporting on my tresses, and the 1/2 a dozen pair of readers strategically placed in my purse, at my desk, on my nightstand, etc.... (FYI, those of you in Marin and on the right side of 40 can get readers for $5 a pair at Craig's Warehouse)

To protect these specs, I knew I needed glasses cases, but didn't want to spend more $$ - so I decided to make my own.

First, I got myself a sheet of 12" x 18" craft foam, and measured it into six 6" x 6" squares

Then I drew a swirly design with a pencil

Then I embroidered over the design with what I now know is called a stem stitch

Then I folded it in half and sewed it closed

Abracadabra! Right before your eyes, a nifty eyeglass case that cost less than $.25 to make

And so easy a child could do it. In fact - my child did! The kid made cases for me, his dad and his grandma.

I'm thinking if you didn't want to embroider you could do a cool design or pattern with a sharpie - and even staple the case closed. Let me know if you give it a try.


I made one with with the Staples & Sharpie technique - too cute!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cookin' Good in the Hood

I love farmers markets - in theory. But in reality, I don't often make the effort to go. I don't have the time, and the offerings can be overwhelming. And when you go with the kid - especially when he's little - you have to deal with the clown. And in Marin you it's not just any clown, it's Twee Twee the creepy mute-except-for-a-siren-whistle clown with the byzantine system of stool placement that guarantees you're in for at least a 45-minute wait in 95-degree heat before junior gets a Blues Clues balloon animal.

Lucky for me, just down the street, there's sort of a freelance farmers market set up. A family on Broadmoor owns Simple Pleasures Farm in the Delta. They pack subscription farm boxes (more than I can take on) for pickup and delivery, and sell the leftovers from their driveway on Thursdays.

Tammy and her kids have yummy little cherry tomatoes, luscious pears, watermelons, peppers, peaches, onions, and even fresh eggs!

I stopped today and got the fixin's for a tomatillo salsa. Tammy said, "I'm so glad you're buying these - so many people don't even know what they are."

What they are is yummy! Tart, sweet and fun to release from their little papery outer leaves.

I don't have a tested & measured recipe, but here's what you do

Take a bunch of:

Tomatillos - 10 or 12 (remove paper and rinse. Or don't rinse, I'm not looking)
Onion - 1 whole, peeled and cut into 8ths or so
Jalapenos - 1 or 2, remove the stem
Garlic - 2-3 whole cloves

Arrange them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil (olive or veggie) and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Roast at 450 degrees for about 45 minutes (I use a toaster oven)

Pour it all into a food processor and Ole! Salsa Verde!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Food Glamour!

Tray Chic, no?

The gorgeous photography is (c) Steve Aja

I'll be serving some of these pretty little things at A Cheap Date with the Frugal Foodie: A Benefit for the Marin Community Food Bank- will you be there?

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

They grow so fast....

Remember when I said you could re-grow your green onions? Well I wasn't kidding - just look at mine now!

They looked like this just a couple of weeks ago

I told the boy that with the exception of him, this is the most successful I've ever been at growing something!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Bribe 'em With Baked Goods," I Always Say....

Now don't those look yummy? A few months ago the fabulously talented Steve Aja came over and took some glamour shots of some of the recipes from the Frugal Foodie Cookbook - and boy did he make the food look good!

I made these Oatmeal Raisin Scones again this weekend to bring to an all-day department meeting tomorrow. I'm still getting to know my colleagues, and they're still getting to know me, and I'm not at all above blatant attempts to win their friendship through baked goods.

These scones freeze like a dream, so you can bake a batch and then pop one in a toaster over for a few minutes and have a warm, crunchy scone ready to ride with you to work on a moment's notice.

2 cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
¾ cup raisins
1 cup + 1 tablespoon milk, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the
bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10–12 times. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon
pieces and distribute over the dry ingredients. Pulse until the mixture resembles
coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the raisins.

Add 1 cup milk and mix until blended. Gather into a ball with floured hands and
divide in half. On a floured surface, pat half of the dough into an 8-inch round.
Cut into 8 wedges. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Transfer the wedges to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes,
until scones are firm to the touch and golden.

While the scones are baking, mix 1 tablespoon milk with the granulated sugar
and the cinnamon. Remove the scones from the oven and brush them with the
glaze while still hot.

Serve warm or at room temperature. To freeze, cool completely and store in a
heavy-duty freezer bag, or wrap in plastic wrap and foil.

Makes 16 scones.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Veggies Grown by Wookies are Chewie

Yours truly has been invited to Skywalker Ranch to be a guest chef at their weekly BBQ lunch. The talented, generous, handsome and brilliant Steve Simmons and his staff will be cooking recipes from The Frugal Foodie cookbook, and I'll be set up at a table signing books, shaking hands and kissing babies.

To say I am honored is an understatement, and how lucky was I that I got to do a recon mission at the ranch last week? The place lives up to its legend. You drive past the 3-acre organic farm, past the "if you build it they will come" baseball field, past the vineyard and several "they make movie magic in there" buildings to get to the main house. The huge, fancy, beautiful main house. Steve gave me a tour of the joint and it is impressive on every level. Since I'm not much of a Star Wars geek, I was only mildly interested in the memorabilia case. But since I am a book geek, I was thrilled to see a genuine copy of GOAT in the library. And because I am a food geek, was tickled to be able to buy a big bag of organic produce on my way out.

Ranch rules dictate that you must be in any photos you take there, so I can't show you the right-out-of-a-movie-adorable farm stand, but take my word for it - it was precious. And the veggies - delish!

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