July 29, 2010

Beet Salad with Oranges and Toasted Hazelnuts


I make this salad all year round, although it’s especially good in the fall months when oranges and beets are abundant in the market and you need a little reminder of summer.  However, this was made a few days ago for a BBQ and served up with these oysters and crab fresh off of the boat. 




8 – 10 medium beets (bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a baseball)

1 C. hazelnuts

3 oranges

1/4 C. olive oil

1/4 C. cranberry juice cocktail or cran-raspberry juice or 100% cranberry juice with a little honey added

1 clove garlic, finely minced

sea salt


salad greens

asiago or parmesan cheese for shaving

Scrub the beets and cut off the stems, leaving an inch or so attached to the beet.  Place beets in a large sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring them to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place hazelnuts in a small sauté pan and toast over medium high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Let them cool and then coarsely chop them.

For the dressing, zest and juice one of the oranges.  In a small re-sealable container combine zest, orange juice, olive oil, cranberry juice, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Shake (over the sink , with your hand over the lid) until dressing is combined.  Set aside.


When the beets are fully cooked, remove them from the stove and carefully drain them.  Beet juice stains everything it touches! You can actually use it to dye Easter eggs, but that’s for another post.  Run cold water over the beets until they are cool enough to handle.  Gently squeeze the beets between your fingers to slide the skins off.  A rinse of cold water will remove any last bits.  Trim the ends and slice into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl.


Peel and slice the remaining two oranges into small segments.  I find it works best to cut the bottom off of the orange so I can keep it from rolling around on the cutting board and then slice the peel off with a knife.  This way all of the bitter white pith is removed.


Place the oranges in the bowl with the beets and stir in the dressing.


Arrange the salad greens on a platter.  Spoon the beet mixture on top of it.  Sprinkle with hazelnuts and then uses a vegetable peeler to shave parmesan (or asiago) over the top.


July 20, 2010

Chalkboard Screen

chalkboard screen

I call this the Compromise Screen.  Compromise 1: If I get to use the bonus room as my office/craft room all of the cat stuff gets stored in there as well because, really, there isn’t any other place to put it.  Compromise 2: I was watching Color Spash (I’m willing to move to San Francisco just for the tiny chance that David might choose our house for a makeover) and they painted all of the kitchen cabinets with chalkboard paint.  It was so inspiring that I thought we should paint one of the small walls in our kitchen with chalkboard paint.  However, my boyfriend said, “No way!".  Instead he suggested that I paint the awful, half-finished screen in my office with chalkboard paint.  Good idea, Honey. 

Originally, the screen was to hide the aforementioned cat stuff. I was going to paint the screen red and paint flowers on it to match a pillow that I love.  Except, once I got started I remembered that I can’t paint.  So it sat in this state for a year or so:


Then I bought two cans of this:


I sanded off the flowers , roughed the paint up a bit and then applied a coat of primer followed by two coats of chalkboard paint.  Once it was dry, I attached the boards (which are MDF, by the way) with 2” hinges. 

Although I really love the idea of chalkboard paint, I did not love using this spray paint.  It dripped all over and by the end of the project I had paint running down my arms.  It’s very possible it was operator error but if I use chalkboard paint again, I will apply it with a roller or brush. 

July 18, 2010

Grilled Oysters with Lemon Parmesan Butter


These oysters seem to make an appearance at every function at our house.  The trick is to stop by the oyster farm or anywhere that sells fresh-shucked oysters and ask them for a few dozen shells.  Take the shells home and scrub them with soap and water, or better yet, run them through the dishwasher.  Really.  It works great.  If you are concerned about them escaping, you can tuck them into the silverware basket.  Once you have clean shells, you can simply buy a jar of already shucked fresh oysters and place one on each shell.  Much easier (and safer) than shucking a bucket of oysters!

You will need:


24 extra small or small oysters, plus 24 clean shells or 24 oysters that you have shucked and loosened from the shell

zest of one lemon (about 1 Tbs), save the lemon to squirt over oysters when they come off of the grill

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature

3 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. freshly grated pepper

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 medium clove of garlic

Heat the BBQ to medium high. 

Arrange the oysters on a large cookie sheet.  Paste the garlic by first finely mincing it and then spinkling the salt on top.  Use the side of a large chefs knife to smash the salt into the garlic.  Applying pressure to the side of the knife and slide it over the garlic until it becomes a paste.



In a small bowl mix the garlic, zest, pepper, cheese and butter until well combined.


Spoon a small amount of butter (about 1/2 tsp) onto each oyster.


Place the oysters on the grill and close the lid.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and the oysters are barely firm to the touch. 


Remove oysters from the grill and squirt with lemon.  Serve them hot.


July 13, 2010

Dollar Store Flip Flop Wreath


Normally I am VERY against fake flowers but I bought my first glue gun today (I know, how could I have lived without one for all of these years, right?) and needed something to try it out on.  I went to the Dollar Store and got all of the stuff for a summer wreath.  I’m visiting my mom at the coast right now and she said she wanted to decorate her porch with a bright beach theme, so that is what I was aiming for. 

I used:


5 bunches of fake flowers (5-6 stems each)

kid’s flip flops (I used size 9 because that was the smallest pair I could find but I think it would work better with a smaller size. Also, I sanded the writing off with medium grit sand paper)

wired ribbon

hot glue

florist wire or other thin wire

wreath form

I cut the flowers from the bunches leaving about an inch of stem attached to each flower.  Then I loaded a bloom up with glue and tucked it into the wreath.  I also added glue around the base of the flower once it was attached to the wreath for extra security. 




Once all of the flowers were on the wreath, I made a bow by folding wired ribbon into three layers and securing the middle of the bow with floral wire. I left long ends on the wire so I could wrap them around the wreath to attach the bow.



Because the flip flops block the area where a regular wreath hanger (the ones shaped like a “J” that go over the back of a door) would go, I needed an alternative way to hang the wreath. After I attached the bow, I doubled a long piece of floral wire, wrapped it around the wreath next to the bow and then twisted the ends into a thumb-size loop. 

To attach the flip flops, I first glued them together and then glued a short length of ribbon to the back of them.  Then I glued the other end of the ribbon to the wreath.  I’m sure there is a better, more attractive way to do this but it worked and no one is going to see the back of the wreath (except for you).


Ugly, huh? But then you turn it around and…


July 8, 2010

Ceramic Bead Bauble Necklace


This was supposed to be a post about making cute baby presents.  You know - burp clothes, pacifier clips, onesies.  However, when I went to upload the pictures, my card reader erased everything, including pictures from two other projects.  So I calmed my seething for all technology by making this funky little necklace.  It kind of looks like bubbles or water or something, which is relaxing, right?
If you want to make a necklace like this one, you will need:
1 yard of 1” satin ribbon
2 yards of 1/8” ribbon
12-15 large beads with BIG holes
a few smaller beads if you like (I put a bunch of them in and then ended up tearing the necklace apart and taking them out)
1 needle with a large enough eye to fit the narrow ribbon through but that is small enough to fit through the hole in your beads
a lighter
Cut each piece of ribbon in half.  Start with one length of narrow ribbon.  Thread it through the needle and then through one bead.  Tie the ribbon in a double knot around the bead.
Repeat with more beads until your necklace is a little over half of the desired length.  Thread the second piece of narrow ribbon through a bead and tie it around the end of the necklace, close to the original bead you started with. 
Now, start threading beads onto the second piece of ribbon.  When you are done, it should look something like this:
Use the lighter to heat (not burn) the ends of the wide pieces of ribbon.  Hold one end of a piece of wide ribbon against one of the knots at the end of the beads.  Carefully twist the wide ribbon around the narrow ribbon and tie a knot as close to the end bead as possible.
Repeat with the other side. Cut off the ends of the narrow ribbon.  Heat the ends with the lighter so they don’t fray.   And that’s it.  Tie it on. 

July 6, 2010

Spicy Pickled Asparagus

Let’s be honest, canning can be hot, sweaty, labor-intensive work.  But there’s nothing quite like glossy rows of colorful jams, vegetables, fruits and sauces or the pop of jars sealing.  It reminds me of all of the summers spent cooking with my grandma and my mom – the women who passed on to me their love of gardening, cooking and baking. 
Yesterday my friend, Claire, and I got together and pickled a few jars of asparagus.  It’s been a late summer in Oregon and good asparagus is still available. 
We loosely used a recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.  We were able to fill 7 quart jars (one batch in my water bath canner). 
14 large garlic cloves
7 hot red peppers, cut in half length-wise
6-7 bunches of asparagus, tough ends trimmed to fit upright in the jars
1/4 cup pickling spice
10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) water
10 cups white vinegar
3 Tbs pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
Sterilize jars in the dishwasher or a pot of simmering water for 10 minutes.  In addition, put a few cups of water in a small sauce pan and toss in the lids. Keep the lids hot (just below a simmer) until you’re ready to use them.
While they are still hot, fill each jar with asparagus, 2 cloves of garlic and two pepper halves.  We found it helpful to pack the jars almost full with asparagus and then tuck the peppers and garlic in around the edges. 
In a LARGE pot, bring the pickling spice, water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil.  Turn it down to low.  Carefully pour the pickling liquid into each jar.  Use a canning funnel.  Don’t be stubborn like me and end up with blisteringly hot liquid all over your counter.  Leave a 1/2” of space in the top of the jar (AKA head room). 
Top each jar with a lid and screw on the band.  Process the jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Let the jars cool.  Make sure they all seal (the middle of the lid shouldn’t move when you push on it).  Wait at least 2 days, if not 2 weeks, before you open the jars.

July 2, 2010

Lovelies from Turkey


Wow, it’s been awhile.  I spent the past two weeks in Turkey – mainly Istanbul and the Cappadocia area – and was blown away by the abundance of colorful, aromatic foods and handmade textiles.  I thought I would share a few of them with you.

There was the fabric…


Pashmina scarves,

DSC04663 DSC04664

cotton dyed with fruit, herbs and minerals and hand-woven wool tapestries,


fabric stores in the Grand Bazaar,


a button shop with a tiny aisle through floor to ceiling stacks of buttons and


carpets from every area of Turkey, hand-woven kilims or hand-knotted wool in every color and pattern imaginable.

Then there was the spice bazaar…


with 1000 year old shops,

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mounds of spices, tea and dried fruit,




blocks of fruity hard candy filled with pistachios, and


little cubes of Lokum, or Turkish Delight - soft, nut flecked candies flavored with rose water, strawberry, lemon or carrot and dusted with powdered sugar.