Oodles of Noodles

How is everyone doing today?  Its an amazingly beautiful day here.

I am a huge fan of pasta.  Penne and Farfalle are my favorite shapes, and I dislike elbows immensely.  Not the taste, because they basically all taste the same.  I find elbow macaroni really difficult to eat.  Sorry, I’m on a tangent, I’ll get off.

I found a great recipe the other day for egg-less pasta.  Egg-less pasta is great for people who need to watch their cholesterol, or for one reason or another, don’t eat eggs.

I found the recipe on food.com here: http://www.food.com/recipe/basic-pasta-dough-no-egg-360234, posted by someone called JoeyV.

I followed the directions and the pasta came out wonderfully.  I didn’t have the full 3 cups of flour that the recipe calls for, so I reduced it.  I also used regular canola oil, instead of olive oil.

I’ll paste it here, for anyone who can’t follow the link back to the original.

Basic Pasta Dough (No Egg) Recipe

Total Time: 2 Hours

Prep Time: 2 Hours

Cook Time: 0 mins

JoeyV‘s Note:  This recipe yields the equivalent of about 1-1/2 lbs of dry pasta, and can be used to make 4 dozen raviolis.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Servings: 4

Directions:

  1. Put flour in large mixing bowl, making a well in the center.
  2. Add wet ingredients to well and very slowly mix together with a fork, incorporating only a little flour at a time so it mixes smoothly and evenly. Trust me, the more patient you are with this the better it will turn out.
  3. Continue kneading by hand for about 10 minutes, let rest for a half hour covered with a towel. Repeat a couple times until dough is smooth and silky, and just slightly sticky.
  4. Shape by hand or with a machine.
  5. Note: Boiling fresh pasta takes significantly less time than dry pasta. Depending on the shape, cook for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
 

 

 

The ingredients gathered.

The ingredients gathered.

A ball of dough, ready to be cut and shaped.

A ball of dough, ready to be cut and shaped.

It came out beautifully.  And tasted delicious, which is the more important thing! 

I plan to make a bunch of this dough and freeze it for when I’m running low on money and groceries.  You wrap the dough in plastic and put it in an airtight container.  It will keep for several months.  When you want to use one, just take it out, thaw it and use it as you would fresh dough.  You can use this dough as a substitute for any store-bought dough.

When you first start to knead, it will be lumpy, but soon it will smooth out and feel soft, silky, and only slightly sticky.  Make sure you coat the work surface and your hands with flour while kneading or it will stick to them.

If you try it out, let me know how it comes out.  I hope you enjoyed this post.  Have a wonderful day!

 

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Daily Walks…Not Just For Your Health

How’s everyone doing today?  Well I hope you’re well, but just in case you aren’t, I have something here which I hope will help.

The physical benefits of daily exercise are well-known and accepted.  I take a walk almost every day, regardless of weather. (Unless it’s really bad outside, I mean, a hurricane brewing is a great excuse to curl up with some hot cocoa and your favorite author’s latest book).

Walks are incredibly pleasant especially when the weather is as nice as it was today.  I find that beyond the physical benefits of walking, there are emotional and mental benefits as well.

As a writer, I know how difficult it can be, on top of dealing with real life, to find time, motivation, and inspiration, all at the same time.  Whenever I’m stuck, a 20 minute walk works wonders to help me focus.

There are some great green-ways here in WS where I live.  Pedestrians only.  Well, pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, no motor vehicles.  There is one quite near my street and it’s a short walk over.  It is quite refreshing to just walk and think.  To remember that there is more to life than struggle and worry.  Just breathe fresh air.  Take in the sun, the rain, the wind and remember the simple pleasure of being alive.

Let’s Get This Squared Away

Welcome back, everyone!

Hope you are enjoying your Tuesday! It is a spectacularly beautiful day here and I feel just as spectacular!

And the topic of today is… Wait for it… Crochet!  I told you I would post about crochet, and this is me, keeping that promise! Crochet! Woo-hoo!

Ahem, sorry. Got a bit excited there.  Won’t happen again… No, can’t say that, it probably will. So, hang on tight!

Anyone who crochets probably already knows what a granny square is.  I was introduced to them recently when I got it into my head to make a blanket with them.  I’ve done 15 of them now, and I think I’m getting to be quite good at them.

Granny squares are incredibly versatile items. Combine them to create works of art for the bedroom (mine is Tetris themed). Or individually, they are cute and functional, as pillow covers, trivets, coasters, table runners, and so on. You can even make other shapes if you’ve a mind to.

How to crochet a granny square:
Abbreviations
St – stitch(es)
Slst – slip stitch(es)
DC – double crochet
Ch – chain
3 DC = 1 cluster (clstr)
Clstr, ch2, Clstr = 1 corner

ROUND 1:
Make a slip knot and ch 4. Slst into the first St in the ch to form a loop. This is called the “chain-4 loop”. Ch 3.  2 DC in ch4 loop. (Ch 2. 3 dc in loop.)x 3. Slst into first St of round. Ch 1, turn,

image

After round 1, your granny square should look like this.

ROUND 2:
Ch 3, 2 DC into Ch 2 loop of previous round. Ch 2, 3 DC. (Ch 1, 3 DC, ch 2, 3 dc)x3. Ch1, Slst in the first St of the round. Ch 1, turn.

image

Round 2

ROUND 3:
Ch 3, 2 dc in ch 2 loop. Ch 1, (3 DC, ch 2, 3 DC. Ch 1, 3 DC, ch 1.) x 3. Slst into first St of round. Ch 1, turn.

image

Round 3

To continue with the granny square, each successive round increases by one cluster each side. Follow the same instructions as above. Make sure that you ch 1 on the sides and ch 2 on the corners.

To finish the square, snip the tale and pull it through the loop. Tighten it down. Weave the ends in.

image

Finished with a slip knot.

That’s all, folks! How-to: crochet a granny square. I hope you enjoyed this rather long post, and that it’s useful to you. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

image

The Finished Product!

Amber, over and out.

Tomatoes, Peppers, and Onions… Oh My!

Hey peeps! I hope your lives are going great!

I know I promised you a post about crochet, and I fully intend to come through. I am, however, suffering from technical difficulties.  So in the meantime, I’m going to talk about something else.

Salsa. Yes,  salsa. Why salsa? You may ask. Well, simmer down and I’ll tell you.  It’s because I made some just 20 minutes ago with veggies that I grew myself in my garden. There is nothing quite so satisfying as cooking with the fruits of your labor.

My garden produce is ripening a few at a time, which is nice because it means that I don’t have to try to store a bunch of tomatoes at once. I just use them as they ripen.  Anyways… I had tomatoes, a green bell pepper, and sweet banana peppers. Of course, when thinking of what to do with these ingredients, salsa immediately sprang to mind. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:
3 medium tomatoes
1 medium bell pepper
1 small-ish yellow onion (this was store bought. I never seem to have much luck with onions…)
3 banana peppers

I chopped everything coarsely. You can dice the vegetables if you want a smoother salsa.  Then I added the veggies to a pot with a quarter cup of water. That’s 1/4 cup.   I added salt, parsley, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper to taste. I don’t like very spicy foods, but you can make it as fiery as you like. I stirred the pot and let it cook, covered for about five minutes. Just enough to soften the onion basically. Everything should still be sorta crunchy.

I took it off the heat and ladled it into a clean glass canning jar. You can use an old jelly jar or any container with a screw on lid. Even old pickle jars. If you use a glass jar, make sure to run it under hot water. If the glass is cold and you pour hot salsa into it, it could very well crack. Allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge.

image

Just under a pint of homemade salsa

Be careful when working in the kitchen. Enjoy your salsa!

Amber, Out.

Amber, over and out.

Small Potatoes…Literally

All that is left of my potato harvest.

All that is left of my potato harvest.

Hello everyone!

I hope you are doing well and enjoying success in your endeavors. 

This week’s topic is gardening.  It’s a very broad subject to be sure and there have been many books written about every aspect of it.  This was the first year that I tried an actual garden.  By actual I mean more than one sickly tomato plant in a pot. (That is what I did last year).  Even a garden in which all the plants are potted is still a garden. 

I dug up a section of my front yard where the grass was already thin.  I planted many things, some of which grew, some of which didn’t and some of which still are (once again, the tomatoes, not so sickly now).  I just recently harvested my potato crop which is what I wanted to tell you about.

I planted red potatoes.  Leftovers from some we had bought at the store.  16, all in a nice row.  I got 51 potatoes, when I dug them up, which might sound like a lot, except for the fact that most of them where the size of small marbles.  I learned quite a bit about growing potatoes this summer.

Potatoes are actually ridiculously easy to grow.  You can grow them in a large pot (Or bucket, 5 gallons at least), if you don’t have ground space.  When a potato gets old, it will sprout eyes.  If you are using large potatoes like russets, you should cut them into one inch cubes, making sure that each chunk has at least one eye.  Be careful not to break off the sprouts.  Since I used smaller potatoes, I didn’t even bother to cut them.  These sprouts will become the stalks of the plant.  If an eye has more than one, you can (only if you want to) remove the smaller one, so the larger will have a better chance of growing.

I dug a trench about a foot deep and lined the bottom with fertilized soil.  This particular stuff was formulated especially to amend depleted soils.  I put the potatoes in the bottom of the trench, with the sprouts facing up. I added more soil to the trench until I had filled it in.  I watered it well.  Within about 10 days, the sprouts had breached the surface of the soil and were stretching toward the sun.  Yay!

Here is where I made a mistake… Potatoes are tall plants but not very sturdy.  Because of this, the plants have to be hilled (Not sure if that is the correct term).  It means that as the plant gets taller, you add more soil around the base to prop it up.  This soil forms a hill, which is probably why I think of it as hilling.  I did not do this properly and the potato stalks soon fell over, looking more like vines on the ground.  Since it was too late to get them to stand on their own, I had to devise another option.

I pushed a stake into the ground at the head of the row, (which was eight feet in length), and another at the foot.  These stakes were about 2 feet tall.  I tied twine between them and allowed the stalks to lean on the line.  It kept them mostly upright and off the ground.  This is good because having the leaving laying on the ground can help the development of disease in the plant.  I didn’t have too much trouble with this, though one plant died prematurely.

Potatoes are ready to harvest when the stalks turn brown and die.  According to my research, it is best to dig for potatoes on a dry sunny day.  So I did.  I used a shovel since I didn’t at the time, have a potato rake. (I have since purchased one, since I can also use it to turn the compost pile)  Be careful not to scrape or cut the potatoes when digging them up, this can encourage the vegetable to mold or rot, apparently. 

I didn’t have any trouble throughout the summer, aside from what I mentioned above.  I have no insects attacking my plants and very few weeds to contend with.  The potatoes were delicious the next morning for breakfast.

Now, I should point out that most of the potatoes were much smaller than is typical for a red potato.  They were small because:

  1. They came from small potatoes
  2. They didn’t get enough sun and
  3. They weren’t propped up correctly

Probably…lol

I wish I had thought to take some photos of the plants as they were growing but I did not.  I started this blog after the potatoes had been harvested. 

The biggest potato by comparison.

The biggest potato by comparison.

The smallest of the potato marbles.

The smallest of the potato marbles.

Whew!  That was a lot of reading!  Well I hope you learned something from it.  Please come back for more of my garden related experiences.  Coming next time, Crochet! Yay!

Amber, Out

Introducing….

Hello, everyone!
My name is Amber. I just wanted to take a few minutes to  introduce myself and explain what this blog is all about.

It will attempt to act as a guide for any 20-somethings just starting out. Or for anyone starting over.  Or for anyone, period. I’ll discuss topics including but not limited to: gardening, crafts, writing, home remedies, my experience in home ownership, and pet care.

Now,  a bit about me. Why would you listen to anything I have to say? Good question! My answer is this… I am a 20-something, still trying to “make it”. I work full time and just barely cover the bills. I know I don’t have everything figured out, but perhaps, by sharing my experiences, I can help others who are also struggling.
And maybe make some friends along the way.

So, I hope to see you here again and that you find something useful in my words.

Amber, Out.