Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pork Ramen Noodle Soup Recipe TryOut

I've recently come across a few food blogs and I hope to try to duplicate some of their recipes right here at home for me and my husband. I have to admit, I've tried some recipes off the internet and didn't have much success. I consider myself a decent cook but I'm sure there's a lot more for me to learn. I decided, I would pick some recipes from each blog and prepare them myself and post about my efforts. One of blogs I stumbled across is Half Baked Harvest.

Usually this time of year, I'm thinking soup. It's winter here in central Ohio and after last year's fun with all the negative temperatures, we're not really expecting a mild or short winter for 2015 but believe me we're all hoping for an early spring. I have my tried and true soup recipes my husband and I really like, but let's face it, I like to cook and try new things. So I was out looking for soup recipes and I found Half Baked Harvest's recipe for Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash, which you can find here.

Just looking at it made me jealous that someone else has eaten it but I haven't. It's beautiful. The noodles, the rich dark broth, the greens from the onions on top, the richness of the egg and caramelized pork.  Seriously? Yeah, I'm in...

I went through the recipe and decided not to add the fish sauce or (I know, I know) prepare the curry roasted acorn squash, so I'm modifying it a bit. I did buy soy sauce, rice vinegar, curry paste, chili paste and Chinese Five Spice.  I'll probably reuse these ingredients while the fish sauce would have to be thrown out after this recipe. I don't like doing that so I just decided to leave it out. I also didn't see any acorn squash at the store but I'm sure I'll try it as as side dish to something else.

So at exactly 8 a.m. on a cold morning, I added a 3.5 lbs. of lovely pork to the crockpot, stirred together exactly what Half Baked Harvest told me to, poured everything over the pork, turned on my crockpot and left the kitchen to let the magic happen.

After 7 hours, the house smelled amazing which is definitely a good start.  I took out the pork and shredded it on a cookie sheet.  There's not much to it. You can take two forks and gently press on the meat and it falls apart then you can tear it shreds.  I admit it. I don't shred much. I like large pieces of meat not a bunch of strings. Just make sure you remove all the tendons and large fat pieces that are not that pleasant to eat.

After that, I strained my soup although Half Baked Harvest didn't mention to do this. After simmering in the pot for 7 hours, you've got a lot of bits in there and I thought it would be a nice way to clear the broth.  I put the broth back into the crock pot and added the ramen noodles and mushrooms and stirred it all together.

Now to caramelize the pork. In a large skillet, I added a little canola oil, some pork I drizzled with soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar and let it caramelize nicely.  Just don't over crowd the pan. Each piece of meat should have some space around it.

I finished with the pork, which took about 20 minutes and put 1/2 of it back into the pot with the noodles and mushrooms. I put the lid on it and let go for another 20 minutes or so until I was ready for dinner. I julienned some carrots and green onion to garnish my soup bowls with.  I admit I forgot the egg on top but that's okay.

This turned out really good and my husband and I enjoyed this soup. The broth is really, really good, spicy and full of flavor. The pork is soft and delicious and its fairly easy to make so another win.  I can see adding more vegetables at the end such as cabbage or broccoli or baby corn to it. Either way its definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Trunk Show

On Saturday, January 17, I went to my local quilt shop, Quilt Beginnings, and everyone who made either a Jacobean Journey or Feathered Star quilt last year brought in their projects. Some were finished, close to being finished or still in pieces.  Below is my quilt.  Its brown, cream, peach and a melon like color.  The blocks have been really fun to do and putting all the blocks together have definitely challenged me and some of the other ladies I spoke with.

The next two pictures, are of a mother and daughter and their quilts.  They have a similar theme with black, gray, red, white and dark gold color. When asked if they were going to attempt to do the next Hoopsister's embroidery quilt "Sewn Seeds," which there's a sneak peak of at the end, they both said, "Nooooooooooo." Also, these guys say they're novice sewers but I think they've graduated!

This lovely lady, did her Jacobean Journey quilt in red, pink, white and a very light blue.  It looks like a great Valentine's Day quilt if you ask me. She also laid her's out a little differently but it still looks great. 

This lady did her quilt in green, yellow, red and a hit of purple and was very striking. 

The next JJ Quilt really looks like some kind of tooled leather. It was really amazing. So as you can see there were a lot of different color combinations and all of them looked really good.

The next lady, did the Feathered Star quilt, which Hoopsisters introduced a few years ago. She also said she was a novice sewer. She did a great job and her quilt turned out beautiful.

Another lady and another Feathered Star. The background is a light tan color and all the stars are different colors. This looked just beautiful in person. This quilt is definitely on my "to do" list. 

Everyone was really pleased at how all the quilts turned out and everyone should be proud of their efforts. As I mentioned above, the next Hoopsisters embroidery quilt pattern is called Sewn Seeds. The lady at the shop, who teaches the embroidery class, has started her quilt example and brought in what she has done. As promised, here's a sneak peak of Sewn Seeds. 

Right now, its kinda at the mystery quilt stage but you can see the center is coming together. If you want to see the entire quilt click here to go to the Hoopsisters page for Sewn Seeds. As for me, I'm going to finish my quilt over the next few months and work on other projects. I may start Feathered Star by the end of the year but I'm not sure yet. Its a major undertaking and I'm going to need some recovery time from this one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Sashing

If you've never done sashing on a quilt, you've come to the right place.  I've never done it either. And of course, the quilt I'm currently working on has sashing. The back of the quilt is done at the same time as the front but when you sew the blocks and rows together you have a seam of unsightly raw edges that is visible on the back. So to cover those up, you a take a strip of fabric 1.5" wide, turn the edges to the middle and sew that on the seams to cover it.

So the first thing, I did was trim some of the excess fabric off the seam to make it lay a bit flatter. Trust me, these seams are pretty bulky, just don't cut far enough down into your sewing.  Trim all the seams.

Next, you can make your sashing.  Take your sashing fabric, mine matches the backing fabric, and cut strips 1.5"x WOF.  I used a spray starch and sprayed the strip, then I folded the edges over and then I ironed them in place.  You can use one of those binder makers from Simplicity if you want your sashing to be perfectly folded just make sure that you get the one that does a double-fold not just a single fold.  I didn't fold the edges to the center because I was afraid the sashing wouldn't cover my seam and I just wanted to make sure I'd have enough in the width and I did.

Next, line up the sashing over your seam and using a very fine Monopoly thread in the needle and the bobbin, sew the sashing down using a zig zag stitch.  You can use any kind of stitching really just make sure you sew the sashing down. If you want, you can use a fusible tape and fuse the sashing down first or you can use a glue stick or pins if you want to hold the sashing in place while you sew. I didn't bother. It was easy enough to just keep the sashing centered over the seam while I was sewing.

You won't be able to really see anything on the back or the front thanks to the Monopoly thread. The only thing you can see is needle marks.  Just try not to go crazy trying to find that clear thread. Hopefully, in the picture below, you can see the marks on the front of the quilt that I've circled in blue.

After you get the sashing on, it should look something like this.

I've never finished a quilt like this before and it seems pretty weird I have to admit. Not sure if I really like it but I guess that's how this embroidered quilt is done since you do the back at the same time as the front. Now, I just have to do this to the rest of the quilt.

So as you can see the quilt is finally coming together. I've almost got the center part of the quilt done leaving 2 rows on the top and bottom to go yet.  They're the borders so I'll get them done when I get them done but I should be ready for the trunk show on January 17, assuming the weather cooperates.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Well, this is my first post for 2015!  I hope everyone has a great year but as for me, I'm just hoping River can master her own impulses a bit better and finish her weave poles reliably in agility. And yes, she's always watching me and my husband. She's discovered that propping her head up on coffee tables, end tables, TV cabinets, walls, people legs or whatever she can find gives her a lazy advantage in people watching. Clearly, this conserves energy which is important to dogs. Looks darn right uncomfortable if you ask me but she doesn't seem to care.

I got my Babylock Unity back from my local quilt shop on December 22.  They found a little glass head from a glass head pin in the port of my embroidery machine so let's hope that fixes the problem of the machine stopping during embroidery. No one likes to have their very expensive machine not working correctly. I'll be like my grandmother breathing in a bag when I'm upset. Not good.

I've gotten back to work on the Jacobean Journey quilt spitting out block after block and I've sewn all the rows together.  I just have to make enough inner and outer border blocks to attach to those and then sew everything together. Our trunk show is supposed to be on January 17th and if the weather is good, I'll go and take pictures of all the quilts. I'm definitely looking forward to getting this quilt done though.

I've got a few projects I need to get done after the JJ quilt is done. I've got a double-wedding ring bed runner done and sandwiched so I just need to quilt and bind it. I haven't quilted anything for a while and I go fairly slowly.  Free motion quilting is all about practice, practice and more practice and I've put it off because I'm really well, out of practice.

I've also started my "Affairs of the Heart" quilt pattern by Aie Rossmann.  It's a gorgeous applique quilt that's been converted for embroidery machines.  But since I already have the pattern book, I decided it would be my "off" machine project, which is basically something I can do by hand sitting on my couch or in a lawn chair outside. You can also buy pre-cut fusible kit for this quilt but I want to use the scraps I already have and I'm not big on fusing unless its a small part. I've already started working on it while my machine is embroidering or as my husband calls it "robo sewing." 

Hopefully I'll have a few blocks to take pictures of soon.  So here's to 2015 and hopefully a productive year.