Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Superfood: Hearty Winter Kale Salad

Kale is a staple in my garden and refrigerator. I always feel good about eating it and know I'm doing my body well. It is high in calcium, iron, and carotenoids. Most people will claim that it taste best after a good frost, but I will eat it all season long. I like all types of kale, I don't discriminate.  I think kale goes perfectly well with a poached egg on toast, or alone in this version of a salad that I just started to make. The best thing about this salad is that it taste better the next day, and last a few.

Hearty Kale Salad Recipe (serves 4-6):

1 bunch kale, red russian, lacinato, curly leaf all work fine
2 garlic gloves (more or less for your taste)
1/4 tsp coarse salt
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/8 red pepper flakes
1/4 grated hard cheese like parmesan

After rinsing the kale, remove the vein, and roughly chop or tear it into pieces about 2 inches, large enough to keep the salad fluffy, but small enough that you are dangling it like spaghetti. Toss the pieces in a large bowl.

For the dressing, mince the garlic and toss in a small bowl along with the salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Wish until well combined, then stir in the cheese.

Pour the dressing over the kale, toss well. Taste best if it can sit a bit, at least 1 hr. The salt will soften the kale up and make it more enjoyable to eat.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Decorating on a Dime: Before and After Kitchen

It's been a few months now that I have been living in this cozy apartment.  The only complaint I had was the cabinets. I new it would be an easy fix but just needed to find the time and motivation. May, when I moved in, was not a good time, but this winter was perfect. In reality it was a really quick job and only took a few days. From start to finish it could have been done it two.

As with anything that I do, I try to keep everything on a tight budget. The cabinet makeover was very affordable. All I had to buy was 1 qt of primer, 2 qts of paint, and a can of spray primer and paint for the hardware.  There was no need to buy new hardware for this job, just a little makeover.

Here are the cabinets all primed up. Deciding the color was no easy task. First I was going to go with white since it is a rental and to keep it easy and neutral.  But then I thought, no way! I want some color and I know the landlords like a bit of color too. So I was going to go with Hosta from Martha Stewart. It is a nice color that I've helped a friend paint his living room with.  I agonized whether it went with the beige that is throughout the main apartment and once at Home Depot I changed my mind.

I picked up the paint sample under Martha Stewards colors for Milk Pail. I really liked it but new it would look different once I brought it home under different light. I decided to take the risk and bought a quart.  I went home, painted the cabinets and was worried the whole time that I didn't like it. It was freaking me out.

Then I remembered a photo from Lauren Liess's Pure Style Home blog and her kitchen that I loved so much. I highly recommend you check out her decorating skills. I was very thankful that she said what color she chose and it is Witch Hazel from Behr.

So back to the store I went to pick it up. Sure enough I loved it and was going to paint the top cabinets white to brighten the room up and do something different. In that process I started to like this color combo that I had going on. After texting photo's to my sister and freaking out over it with her she got me to keep what I had going on. Milk Pail on top Witch Hazel  on the bottom, and with a few red accents it all come together nicely.

After I threw the freshly painted hardware back on, it was instant happy. Check it out:

Originally the kitchen had one of those lazy susan's in the corner but it was broken.  It was such a waste of space so we removed it and I was left with a big open hole. It was great for storage, but to hide the clutter I whipped up a cute little curtain made of a mustard yellow that seemed to fit the scheme.  I bought 1 yd at Joann's on sale for a couple bucks.

Here you can see one of those racks from Ikea that I picked up, also on sale, for some added storage. The goods hanging were thriftstore/yardsale purchases, items passed from my grandmother, and a few of my own cups.

Here is one of those handy magnetic knife holders from Ikea and hanging on teh wall is a Seth Colter original that I got when we were living in Northern California at the same time.

Here is a picture of the kitchen table and chairs that I got super cheap. The table was $14 from the thrift store. It just needed a good scrub down. It is perfect for my space for it's size. It is a drop leaf table and can be made smaller.

Check out their makeover here.

The chairs were a free find at my mother's that she picked up at a yard sale. I reupholstered them with this great fabric that I got at the discount fabric store in Framingham, MA called Sewfisticated.

The lamp was a find in the return section of Ikea for $2.  The cord was purchased there too for $1. And there you have it, from blah, to beautiful.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fig Preserves and Cheese on Toast Drizzled with Honey

I was lucky enough to be invited down to NYC over the New Year Holiday.  I got to see some good music and spend some quality time with great people.  On our way out we hit up a little bakery, possibly the most exciting thing about going to NYC is finding great bakeries. Anyway, we were in Brooklyn in a rush to catch the train and found a gem, Tazza Bakery. It offered a baguette with figs, ricotta, and honey. I saw that and didn't think twice.

A couple of weeks ago I whipped up a batch of fig preserves to give as a gift along with some brie, homemade seeded crackers (recipe from Peter Reinhart), wrapped up on a ceramic plate that I made. It was a sure hit, and everything tasted great together. To my luck I made some extra preserves for myself. The other day the light bulb went on above my head and I put together a fig, cottage cheese and honey on toast. I would normally have preferred a good ricotta, but this cottage cheese was a lot drier than the typical so it worked just fine.

Quick Fig Preserves Recipe (makes about 3 cups):

2 cups dried Mission figs, chopped, other varieties will work just fine too
1 med apple, peeled & chopped
1/4 cup sugar (to taste)
1 tbl lemon juice

Place the figs, apple, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pot. Add enough water to easily cover the fruit. You can soak the figs over night to make this process quicker. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer on med-low. Add the sugar. Stir frequently to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom. At the point, the figs will absorb a lot of water. You may need to add more water as they cook. If you add too much water, don't fret, you can easily cook it off. The apple contains a lot of pectin and will help the preserves thicken so no need for added pectin. Plus, it adds a little dimension to the mix.

Once it reaches a desired consistency, and taste to your sweetness, place in a clean jar with lid. Store in the fridge for up to a week, and easily longer assuming you've added enough sugar.

This taste very good with cheese, especially brie, goat, or a sharp chedder. It is possibly better topped on vanilla ice cream, stirred into yogurt, or dolloped on your oatmeal. Let me know if you think of anything else.

For the Toast:

If you have a fresh loaf don't toast, if it's getting a little dry toast it.
Smear a little fresh ricotta, or a dry cottage cheese
Spoon on some of those preserves
Drizzle with honey to your liking

A truly simple and very satisfying breakfast or snack.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hot from the Oven: Freshly Made Clay

Here is some eye candy if your having a craving.  Most of these items will be available on etsy if you are dying to have some.  I'm also working on updating and rearranging my website to include these.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Before and After: Kitchen Table and Chairs

I wanted to share my thrift store finds and the little bit of work that went into sprucing them up. I had a few months to gather up furniture to fill my apartment and this is what I got on my search for deals.

The kitchen table was purchased at a salvation army for $14!  It is perfect because it is small and can be made larger when I have company over. I needed something to fit my narrow space. Nevermind that it is also a sweet retro table. How could I resist?

The legs were spotted with rust but all is needed was a little scrubbing with a green scrub pad that we all have under our kitchen sinks. I gave the bottom of the leafs a little paint that I had to clean it up.  The surface needed a bit of scrubbing too, but it was a piece of cake. Good as new.

 The chairs were a scavenge from my mother's that she got at a yard sale way back. I'm sure she got them for a few bucks.  She is a where I get my bargain shopping genes from.

I wanted to keep the wood, I wasn't ready to paint over them.  I did clean them up with a refinishing oil cleaner that takes out scruffs and scratches out nicely. It also leaves a nice new glean. I used it on a few of my other wood pieces too. Keep in mind it only works on wood that has an oil finish. WARNING: this is addicting and you will find yourself searching for more work to rejuvenate!

What the chairs did need, desperately, was new fabric.  I used the same fabric as my ottoman because I love it and couldn't get enough, plus is was rather affordable at the discount fabric store.  I paid $6.99 a yard.

The project was easy for any one to do. I don't have much experience with it, but new it was do able. I unscrewed the back rest and seat cushion and pulled out all the old stables and decorative nails.

I kept the foam because the condition was is good shape. To reupholster them, I laid them out of my fabric, making sure the pattern lined up (very important) and gave them about 3 inches of slack all around.

I used a staple gun the tightly, but not too tight or your get pulling, secure the fabric all around. I used the technique that I learned in a painting class to stretch a canvas for painting.

Start in the middle of one side. Punch in a couple staples then move directly across to the opposite side and do the same. Then move to the next side, punch a few, then move directly across. At this point you will about three staples in the middle of each of the four sides.  Add a few more working out from the middle of the side, then go to the opposite side. Work your way around till it's all done. This way you are evenly distributing the pull on the fabric.

Hammer down the staples after your down to make them flush with the wood.

The hardest part of this was hammering the decorative nails. I should have done some research because they were a pain! I think I had to throw a few out. I even gave up on them. I got enough in to hold them back together. and that was good enough.

Furniture Feature Fridays