May 25, 2010

May KMA Layouts

Here are my layouts and cards for this month:











I made three cards this month all using American Crafts Abode collection.  I was trying to think outside the box a little here.











Scrapbook.com is down at the moment for maintenance, but as soon as the site is back up I'll link the layouts and cards to my gallery. 

Update:  Site is now back up and running.  Click on the title of each layout or card and it will take you to my gallery at scrapbook.com where you see a bigger image and a list of all the products used.

May 3, 2010

Update...

If you read this post, you’ll notice that almost all of my goals for this year are cooking related.  Recently I shared that I have rediscovered my love of cooking.  I think of myself as a fairly decent home cook. I am comfortable in the kitchen and there are a few things that I am really good at making (like roasted chicken, if I do say so myself). I also feel very comfortable baking and there aren’t too many recipes that intimidate me.  I always love trying and learning something new.  I have been hugely inspired lately by Deb Perelman at smitten kitchen. Like Deb, we also have what I would consider to be a very small kitchen.  I will admit that there have been times when I've let this detail get in the way of me deciding whether or not a certain dish is worth the effort of preparing it.  Yet Deb doesn't let that fact get in the way of her love of cooking and I think that I shouldn't let it either. 

When I set out to make my goal list I tried to think of some of the things that I have always wanted to learn how to make.  Not everything I thought of made this list; there is just no way that I could make all the things I've ever wanted to make in one year.  Plus there are a few things on the list that I already know how to make, like poached eggs or tonkatsu.  I wanted a mix of goals some more challenging and perhaps one-time ventures and others that might be more of a process (like perfecting poached eggs; this is one that will take a lot of trial and error and testing of various techniques until I find the one that gives me my desired results). 

Cooking makes me happy and I love the feeling of learning something new or finding a new way to prepare an ingredient or discovering new flavor combinations. Before I had children, and I had a lot more free time on my hands, I would frequently seek out and try new recipes.  I'm happy that that excitement has returned and while I can I want to take advantage of that feeling.  Also, although this isn't on my goals list, as it is somewhat more of an abstract goal in my mind, is the hope that I can improve my photography skills through this process as well. I don't think I will ever be selling prints of my food images, but as they say, practice makes perfect. That being said, I know I won't ever reach perfection, but my hope is that with a lot of practice I can become a more skilled photographer.  Already the process of photographing some of the meals and dishes I have prepared has taught me a lot and has made me really think about what it is I am trying to capture.  It's made me more purposeful in my photography, and that purposefulness has translated to the pictures I take of other subjects as well.  I'm enjoying this process and this little adventure of mine so far.

So, onto the update.  I made two dishes from my goals list almost two weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to posting about them.  It's been a little hectic around here, for reasons that I cannot share.  In my effort to learn more about Indian cooking, well, I'm starting off really easy.  I should probably backtrack here and tell you that earlier this year I found a copy of Jamie's Food Revolution in the children's section of Barnes & Noble one day.  While Gabe and Nathan played with the Thomas set-up I thumbed through my new discovery (this was way before I knew that he was going to be doing the show on ABC; to me it was just, "hey, cool, Jamie's got a new cookbook").  Right away I noticed that there were recipes for curries and curry pastes.  There are a few Indian dishes that I have always wanted to learn how to make at home.  Jamie quite rightly points out that the versions that most British, and you might as well add Americans, love are such a narrow selection of what is available in Indian cooking.  But the ones he has chosen for his cookbook are some of my favorites and I thought they would be an easy place to start.  I know that they are not necessarily traditional Indian recipes, but I'm trying to take baby steps here.  My hope is to get comfortable with the flavors and spices before moving on to a more authentic cookbook and recipes.

The first dish that I made from my list is Rogan Josh, but I used pork instead of lamb (because that's what I had). I also didn't have all of the ingredients to make the curry paste according to the recipe. So although I did make the paste from scratch I'm not counting it as completing my goal.  I will say that the dish turned out very well and had a nice depth of flavor even with some of the ingredients missing.  My next attempt at making homemade paste was for chicken Tikka Masala.  This is my husband's favorite take-out dish and we order it every time we get Indian take-out.  I should say every time we did get Indian take-out.  Haven't had a take-out curry since we moved to California.  Which is just another reason that I need to learn how to make curries at home!  Anyhow, this time around I gathered all the necessary ingredients beforehand so that I would have everything I needed to make the curry paste.  The only thing I couldn't find was smoked paprika.  But I'm on the hunt, and when I find it I'll add it to my spice pantry. 

Making the paste was fun.  Don't know how to describe it, I just enjoyed that process a lot:




And here is the final dish:





I just remembered that there was one more ingredient I couldn't find and that was almond flour.  The finished dish was more soupy than in the photograph in Jamie's book and more soupy than I'd like.  I'll probably just try using regular flour next time since finding almond flour will require a trip to Whole Foods.  (I went to Henry's; couldn't believe they didn't have it.  They had like 20 different flours...) 

The dish was very good.  Nice complexity of flavors and just the right amount of heat.  But.  I can't help think that I really am going to have to delve deeper into Indian cookery to get to a version that is like what you would get from an Indian restaurant.  Like I said, baby steps.  This is just the start.

A few days later I made tonkatsu using the technique described by Harumi in her cookbook.  Usually when I make tonkatsu I double-bread with the panko (so, panko-egg-panko).  Harumi breads with flour, then egg, then panko.  So that's what I did:



I don't know that I really have a preference for the flavor.  It might have been a little more crispy using the flour and panko, but without doing a side-by-side comparison I really couldn't say.  I will say that I like using the panko only because then I only dirty two dredging dishes instead of three.  And, even though they just go into the dishwasher that process takes up less counter space as well (a valuable commodity around here).  At least now I can say I did it and scratch it off the list.  (Oh, and notice I served it on top of the rice.  A big no-no in Japan).

As for non-food related goals, in my effort to read more scripture (and add a little more prayer to my day as well) I have subscribed to Magnificat.  I got my first issue, the May issue, last week.  I think it's going to take some time to get into the habit of making this a consistent part of my day but I am going to put forth the effort to do this.  I love the format of the magazine and the cover art is so beautiful and inspiring.  Just holding it makes you pause and say a little prayer of thankfulness. 

That's all for now.  This month is going to be... crazy?  Lots going on.  But I won't be away for too long. 

May 1, 2010

NSD Stamping Challenge

Happy National Scrapbooking Day!

As I mentioned yesterday the design team at KMA is hosting a series of challenges to celebrate NSD.  For my challenge I want you to use a stamp on a layout. Any stamp you'd like, big or small, decorative or functional. Your choice.

One of my favorite ways to use stamps in scrapbooking is to create journaling blocks or date blocks for my layouts. On the layout below I used a journaling stamp from Studio Calico to create lines on my page so that I could handwrite my journaling neatly (this is sorta important to me ).





Here is a close-up of the journaling:




So now it's your turn. Create a layout using a stamp, post it to the gallery and then link your layout to this thread. You have until 9am EST on Monday.  Please post any questions or comments about the challenges here.

Can't wait to see what you create!

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