Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe

Like I said, I want to share my recipe for Roasted Root Vegetables. Really, it's not so much a recipe, per se, as it is a loose formula, very open to the adjustments of individual taste and seasonal availability. Also, I have to say, for integrity's sake, that I read a lot of recipes in an effort to come up with what I like. So, I could have totally lifted this from some chef somewhere inadvertently. Okay, I feel better. Here you go.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.


2 to 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
4 to 5 medium, red-skinned potatoes, washed and cut into bite-size pieces
3 to 4 medium turnips, washed, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 or 2 medium to large rutabagas, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
3 to 4 medium beets, washed, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
4 to 5 springs of fresh rosemary
4 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 to 3 large heads of garlic, tops trimmed off evenly
3 to 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, more or less
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Like I said, this is really open to interpretation and is infinitely adjustable. If you can't stand turnips or are a little wary of the rutabaga, leave 'em out and add carrots. Or more potatoes. Whatever you like. Just keep in mind that you should have everything cut around the same size so that your vegetables cook fairly evenly.

Now, once your veggies of choice are all washed, trimmed and cut, toss them into a big bowl with the herbs and garlic. Season with the salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with olive oil. Get your hands in there and give the mixture a good toss to make sure each piece is evenly coated. Once the veggies are seasoned and oiled, spread them evenly on a large baking sheet (or two, if necessary) or a baking dish, like so:

Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 or so minutes and rotating the pans if you've got more than one. Your veggies should be tender and golden brown (the white ones, anyway) when they are nicely roasted. Note: Most of these root vegetables will cook at about the same rate, but keep an eye on each variety to make sure one isn't overcooking. The most likely culprit for overcooking - sweet potatoes. The turnips will probably take the longest to soften up and brown.

You can serve this dish as a side, but it's hardy enough for a vegetarian entree, I think, like I've got up top with a simple salad. And, yes, that is a paper plate. Photo stylist, I am not.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Patched Jeans Tutorial

Earlier in my pregnancy, when I was outgrowing everything in my closet, there was one pair of jeans that still fit. Unfortunately, they seemed to rip in a new spot every time I bent my knees. So, out of desperation and an appalling lack of decent, local, maternity jeans options, I patched them. Not sure where that put me style-wise, but they got me by in a pinch. I did have fun figuring out the patching process and will definitely use it on kids' clothes in the future.

I'll tell you how I did it. This was the problem:

First, I trimmed away the flap:

Then I started the patch. I wanted it to be strong enough to hold up to stress and washing with the denim, so I fused two large fabric scraps together using Heat'n'Bond fusible interfacing. I'll get to the hem tape in a sec.

This is an older Amy Butler print from my stash for the front side and just any old scrap for the back (the black gingham). I fused the two scraps together (following package instructions), then trimmed the fused piece into an appropriately sized patch. Make sure when you try this that you leave at least a 1/2 inch overlap around the edges of your hole to give yourself plenty of stitching room.

Okay, patch done. Now, with the jeans inside out, I lined the edges of the hole with fusible hem tape. Following the package directions to fuse the patch over the hole, make sure that you cover it entirely with plenty of room for stitching. Not that I pictured it this way above, but you'll need to lay the patch so that your main fabric is showing through the hole when your jeans are turned right side out. You knew that.
And, here you go, right side out. I still pinned around the hole before stitching, just because I didn't really trust the strength of the bond made by the hem tape to hold up to hand sewing through heavy denim.

Use any stitch you like to finish the edges, starting (and finishing) your stitching inside. Not sure what you'd call this stitch I used. I just knew I wanted it to be a little rough and organic looking. And fast. If you choose to use a straight stitch, or something that doesn't actually grab the edges of the denim, you may need a little extra space between your stitching and the edge to allow for fraying.

If you're not into colorful patches, use denim scraps for a simpler, distressed look. This is a good way to make your favorite pair of jeans last a little longer when they start to wear out. Crafty, economic and earth-friendly to boot. The grandmothers would be proud.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Felted Wristlets

So, the timing is not ideal for felted wool wristlet making, but since a couple of you asked, I'll tell you how I made them. You'll just have to remember this post next fall!

Okay, first step, find yourself a felted sweater (look at thrift stores), or felt a 100% wool sweater yourself. (Here is a helpful link for those of you who've never felted a sweater before. Just note that she recommends cutting all seams and removing ribbing prior to felting. In this case, I just washed the sweater whole, then cut the sleeves off after washing. If they come out of the wash somewhat misshapen or with the seam in an awkward place, just rewet and reshape, then allow them to dry before moving on. I reshaped mine so that the seam was on the inside of my wrist.)

Sweater found, make sure that the cuffs have plenty of give and fit your hand comfortably when pulled up to your knuckles. If it's too tight, and rewetting and stretching don't help, well, you might want to find yourself another sweater. It would really stink if you couldn't wiggle your fingers once the thumb gusset is sewn.

Next step: cut the sleeves to whatever length you like. My original cut in this picture is longer than the end result. (I trimmed a couple of inches off when Rich said it looked like I had wrist casts on. He was totally right, proving that even a male engineer can possess some form of fashion sense. Go figure.)

Next, turn the sleeves inside out and try them on, pinching between your thumb and forefinger to determine where the thumb gusset should be. I marked a narrow angled seam with a Sharpie. Keep this angle narrow, so your thumb has plenty of wiggle room and there is less bulk once you turn the wristlets right side out. With the sleeves still inside out, pin and stitch through both layers along the lines. (I doubled stitched mine for strength.) Stitching done, carefully clip inside the angle to its point, making certain that you don't clip any of the stitches, like this:

Turn the wristlets right side out and voila! Since my sweater was pretty fuzzy from the felting process, I used electric clippers (sans guard) to "shave" and clean them up. The felted sweater fabric was so thick that I really didn't have to worry about making a hole, but proceed with caution if you decide to use this method.

Finally, the fun part... embellish your wristlets in one or two of so many fun ways. Add some decorative buttons, needle felting, a crocheted trim... all the things I considered doing before I finally decided to keep it simple (and sane), since I made these as a last minute project before a trip.

Do these instructions make sense? Any questions? Feel free to ask and please share if you decide to make your own!

Monday, May 11, 2009


See? Audrey's quilt is actually coming together! It's all over but the tying and binding. I'm leaving it on the kitchen table as incentive to work on it every little bit in between laundry loads, kid conflict resolution, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich making.

Like I said earlier, I plan on tying it with red thread. The problem: I don't want to be kicking myself the first time I wash it and the ties bleed all over the fabrics. I have treated the thread twice with Retayne, as recommended by my local quilt shop, but it stills bleeds a bit when it's wet. Any suggestions?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing the quilt and moving on to smaller projects, like crib bedding, in my sewing room. Aside from the obvious inconvenience of commandeering the kitchen table for sewing, there's also this:

I blame Gertie for my not having finished this quilt yet. I forgot how crazy kittens can be! Here she is completely depleted of energy from climbing the quilt as I'm ironing it, attacking every loose string, and attempting to eat pins. Which she totally would have done if I hadn't intervened. Speaking of kicking myself...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Saturday morning rituals

My favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings is head down to our local farmers' market. Ours is small, but great, with live music (usually bluegrass, zydeco, or folk), some really beautiful organic produce, grass-fed beef, organic poultry and fresh seafood, fabulous bakers, various ethnic foods and fresh fruit popsicles (that's Gage sharing my favorite, creamy avocado - sounds gross, but, oh my!).

What I'm most excited about this season is that one of the farms is (finally!) selling shares of its produce. I've been looking for a local c.s.a. since we moved to this area, so I had to jump right on this one. Here's my first bushel from last week:

Kale, spring onions, radishes, beets, turnips, carrots, tatsoi and red leaf lettuce. Heavy on the root vegetables this time of year, but that's fine by me. I have a favorite recipe for Roasted Root Vegetables that I'd hoped to share today, but I'm doing well squeezing in this short post.

My mom and dad have been here this past week and we've been in serious Baby Prep mode. Washing clothes, arranging the nursery, shopping... Now I have GOT to go work on a certain birthday girl's already belated gift. Oh, and pack up Mother's Day gifts for belated shipping. Not to mention our anniversary Monday, for which I have close to nada planned or prepared.

In the meantime, got any root veg recipes to share?
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