Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That's Smashing!

Kitchen tools are some of my favorite toys. When I first discovered the lemon-colored lemon press for pressing the juice out of lemons I thought I’d discovered the best tool ever invented. Aside of course from the stand mixer, the blender, the food processor, and the toaster. You could say that I love kitchen gadgets. I especially love the ones that make food prep easier. Duh. Call me lazy but I would much prefer to whip cream with an electric hand mixer than stand there with a bowl and whisk for 10 minutes. 

Discovering new ways to save time and energy in the kitchen makes me happy. So when we were on our recent trip to the US, and a friend of ours introduced me to my new favorite time saver, I was ecstatic. But let me first ask, how do you smash your avocados for guacamole, or your bananas for banana bread? Chances are most of you will answer "with a fork” or, like I used to do, “with a potato masher.” 

Little did I know the sheer joy I would get out of using a simple metal kitchen whisk to complete these tasks. There I was, in our friend's kitchen, I was about to begin mashing the avocados with a fork (since my beloved potato masher was far away in Stockholm) when our friend recommended that I use a whisk instead. A whisk?! She handed it to me and, strange as it seemed, I went to work. 

Let me just say... Amazing! It worked beautifully and it half the time it used to take me with my potato masher, which honestly wasn't that long but still. I was mostly amazed at how beautifully and evenly it smashed the avocado. So I put the whisk to the test the next time I made banana bread. Same thing. Amazing results! Net time you make banana bread or guacamole, try it. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. 

Ps. Thanks for the tip, K!!! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cucumber Refreshed

It never fails. Every time I make a trip home to Texas, the bathroom scale tips upward by around five pounds upon my return. Well, I guess it was no secret that I was eating as if my life depended on it. As if eating and tasting everything, especially Tex-Mex cuisine, was my job. What a cool job that would be! If only someone could figure out how to avoid gaining those pesky extra lbs. However we all know the reality. And that is too many enchiladas and stuffed jalapeños is just that. Too much. They start to gravitate toward the hips, thighs, and stomach. Ugh. 

But it couldn’t be helped! When you crave and miss a certain food and you only get an opportunity once a year to enjoy it, you have to take that opportunity. In full force. Which we did. 

So since our return I've gotten rather friendly with our juicer in an attempt to reverse the "eating too much delicious food" damage. Our old favorite stand-by combo, christened "sharknado" by my husband, has been getting some competition. A new, or rather old, favorite is apple, ginger, and lemon and a brand new combination has emerged in the experimenting - Cucumber Refreshed - a simple blend of cucumber, lime, & mint. And I'm so much in need of a cleanse that after my first sip, I felt the cucumber blend needed a bit of sugar. Is that insane or what!? 

To answer your question, no, I did not add any sugar. Though an addition of even one apple, pear, or kiwi, might make the "medicine" go down a bit better. ;-) Therefore I propose the following combination:

1 whole English cucumber
1 green apple (keeping in the green family, but any apple can be used), cored.
1/2 fresh lime, peeled (substitute lemon if you do not have lime)
A great big handful of fresh mint leaves (stems can be included)

Juice these ingredients in your juicer, stir, and enjoy. If you do not have a juicer you could try blending the ingredients in a blender but I would recommend peeling and dicing the cucumber and apple, and adding some water to help it blend. I’d start with a fourth to a half cup of water and increase as needed. 

The cucumber and mint combo are refreshing and cooling and the lime adds a soothing alkaline element as well. The apple is a special bonus added solely for flavor purposes. You can leave it out if you prefer a more cleansing drink. 

Do you have favorite juice combinations? I’d love to hear about them!

(* Here is the recipe for our Favorite...)


1 English cucumber
1/2 fennel bulb
3-4 romaine lettuce leaves
3-4 leaves of kale
2-3 stalks of celery
3 apples
1 pear
1 big hunk of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
1/2 lemon, peeled

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Card Stock! Paper Cutter! Stamps! Oh My!

Having a large amount of leftover card stock lends to numerous craft ideas and projects using said card stock. Inspired by the two nearly full reams of card stock sitting unused in my craft drawers [yes craft drawers!] and my new stamps from Yellow Owl Workshop & Paper Source, I decided to spend this past rainy Saturday morning making note cards. 

Some years back my Mom "loaned" me her paper cutter to use for making our wedding invitations, which she later gifted to me (thanks Mom!). Luckily it ended up moving with us to Stockholm because I still use it quite often and my rainy day card project wouldn't have been possible without it. With my first sheet of card stock, I figured out that I could cut two 4 x 6 cards and one 5 x 7 card out of each sheet, with only a small scrap piece leftover. The perfect size scrap piece for test stamping, or making book marks. Once I had my cards cut out and stacked I was ready to start stamping. 

After a couple of trial stamps I figured out what I wanted to do. It was so much fun and I was actually amazed at how nice they turned out. Pretty adorable, don't you agree? Now I just need more stamps, additional stamp pad colors, and envelopes to complete the sets. I came across a fun tutorial recently for making your own envelopes. Maybe a near future craft project? They look like they would be fun to do and not terribly difficult, if I could find some nice inexpensive decorative paper. Otherwise I'm not quite sure if they would be worth the time and money. Especially if I can find a good price on envelopes in bulk. 

When I was in the US recently I helped my aunt find and order some simple yesterday elegant envelopes in bulk and they turned out to work pretty well with the cards that she made, providing yet another inspiration to my own card project. I just have to see if I can figure out who sells envelopes in bulk here in Sweden and for a good price. My husband is good at finding things online so maybe I'll put him to the task. 

My next card making afternoon may include some hand-carved stamps. I bought two carve-your-own-stamp pads when I purchase my stamp set and now I just have to get up the nerve to take a carving knife to them. I may have to practice on a potato first!