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Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Make a T-Shirt Rug

Guest Blogger: Rachel Myers
 Sometimes projects and great ideas don’t always go as planned. In my case, I had to improvise and ended up with a different project than when I started! And it’s quite the story. First I started out making a t-shirt rug using very simple directions. The directions are as follows. First take a few shirts you don’t want anymore and cut them into 1 inch strips. You want these strips to be like little circles, not flat. For a frame, you’ll want to use a hula hoop. I used a child-size hula hoop and needed about 50 strips. Once you have the hula hoop and all your strips cut out, begin using strips to make spokes around the hoop. I used six strips, making 12 spokes. In order to get the right pattern, push two of the spokes together and keep them that way for the remainder of the project. Then, starting at any spoke, tie a strips on by looping it through itself around the spoke. Weave the strip over and under the spokes, alternating at each one. Attach another strip in the same way to the first strip and continue weaving. After three or four rows, you can begin separating the spokes and weaving in between them. When you’re all done, simply cut the spokes and tie them to prevent unraveling. Now the most important part is to not pull the strips too tight.
And I say that’s very important because that’s what I did and it didn’t end so well. If you pull the strips too tight, it creates too much tension and will pull the rug up into a bowl-like shape. So now that I had this bowl, I didn’t know what to do and I considered throwing it out and starting over. But that would be a waste. So when you’ve got a project that went awry and can’t be used for its original purpose, find another purpose for it!
My idea was a stretch but, was confirmed by my ever-honest nephew. When I showed him the “rug” he said plainly, “It’s a basket!” So that’s what I made it: A basket. But I still had the problem of how to make it keep its shape. Although the weaving was tight it was still too top heavy. I thought I could find a bowl to glue it to, but that didn’t seem practical. Then I had an idea that worked: Mod Podge. I had always used it to glue, but you can use it on fabrics too! To glue on fabrics, all you need to do it water it down. I made my mixture to be about 2 parts water to one part glue. Make sure the fabric is completely soaked by the glue mixture, and then let the excess drip off. Since my project was going to be a basket, I let it dry over a metal bowl that can be easily removed and washed. If you going to try this method know that it takes a very long time to dry. My basket took about a day and a half. Also, to help keep the shape you can untie the spoke one at a time and pull them to tighten up the project.
So even if your project doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, that’s no reason to throw it out. Make something new! For great recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays &Special Occasions-2nd edition

To Eat or Not To Eat

Guest Blogger: Chris Manganaro How often do you try something new? When you go out to a restaurant, do you order the same thing each time? When we are children, we start to develop the type of appetite for foods we will eat our entire lives. It simultaneously becomes harder and easier to eat new things as we grow older. Our appetite changes and things we used to hate become our favorite things in adulthood. It is hard to determine what factors have the most sway over what we eat and what we will not eat, but it all comes down to having a sense of adventure. Jerry Hopkins' book, Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat, is all about the human appetite. Humans have the capacity to eat most anything they can get their hands on. Hopkins' book goes into detail on how everything is prepared and just what people had to go through to acquire certain "foods" and make them edible. This ranges from Fugu fish to poisonous plants. Even things that are hard to catch like flies are hunted down and trapped in rather ingenious ways. It is rather surprising just how far people will go to eat everything they can. Humanity needs food to survive, which is why there are so many things in the world that are considered food in the first place. It all depends on where we are located, just what we eat. Supermarkets nowadays are adding more exotic foods to their offerings and people are opening up to all new foods when they visit restaurants. The world is changing everyday yet this book still manages to bring up things that most could never see taking hold of the mainstream. It is rather fascinating to read about the history of each food mentioned and find out just what has gone into making something out of everything. Animals, plants, insects, and things we see every day, from worms to birds can be eaten if we so desire. Just like life, food is what we make of it. If we decide to eat something, it is likely we can find a way to prepare it. All we need is the courage to try it. For great recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition in print or Exclusively on Kindle

Erasing the Line Between Food and Fiction

Guest Blogger:Chris Manganaro What we eat on a regular basis tends to be normal to us based on the simple fact that we are used to it. Just as we might eat a hamburger once a week or so, in other places it may be normal to have eaten larvae or snake. Of course, it is still hard to believe that there is anywhere in the world where blood is consumed regularly, yet there likely is. The word "food" means something different to everyone. What one finds appetizing might come off as unappetizing to someone else based off of any number of things, from taste to culture. Extreme is a word that is used when describing something in the highest degree, something at its peak. In some ways, this is what Jerry Hopkins book titled Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat is all about. It takes the word food and brings it to the very edge of reason. It is a book which can boggle the mind simply by telling us things we may already know yet in greater detail. Most people have heard about at least some of the foods in this book, yet how much do we actually believe it? People eat dogs and cats. This is a fact, but any pet lover would be too appalled to even think that there is history and reasoning behind this. It is just too extreme a thought. Jerry Hopkins wrote this book to express his passion for food. He has tried many of the foods he has mentioned and even enjoys them. He writes facts as well as personal stories which range from humorous to stomach turning. It is a very humanizing way of presenting somewhat disturbing information. Not everyone is bound to take this book the same way, of course. Hopkins tries to make the book as appealing as possible to all readers by adding his human touch but he does not hold back so as not to take away from the experiences he is trying to convey. He is noticeably biased yet he knows he cannot change his reader's minds. If the descriptions are not enough to make you queasy, there are also recipes and pictures to add that extra little bit of tantalizing terror for the reader. Many readers will find themselves gagging on the words throughout the book, but the recipes and pictures will only make the book itself feel icky. Full color photos bring certain parts of the book to life, for better or worse. Recipes only bring the idea of everything as food to light all the more. It is quite humbling. This book is not for the faint of heart or those just about to eat. Or for that matter, those who have just eaten. Of course, for people like Hopkins, perhaps it might cause some salivating. Needless to say it takes a healthy appetite, whether for food or information, to get through this book. It is an intriguing read for many reasons, as long as you find the right time to read it. For Great Recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition

Friday, January 18, 2013

Leftover Christmas Bulge

Guest Blogger: Renata Toth If you are like me, you gain weight in December, even though you’ve been counting calories, counting carbs, counting fat and counting your steps and the minutes you spend with working out. Now Christmas is over and spring is coming, although slowly – it’s time now to get back to shape and lose that excess we gained during this period. A simple diet plan came to my mind when I was trying to figure how to lose weight effectively. I hate starving and hate depriving myself of the food I like, therefore I chose a few day-long diet that allows for some goodies even though strictly limitedly. You can do it for 3, 4 or 5 days, but do not do less than 3 in order to get the effect, and do not do more than 5 to prevent your body from switching to “emergency mood” and start living off of much less calories than usual. The first day is usually all right. The breakfast is an orange and around 100 grams of sour cream. For lunch, you can have a slice of bread with a small amount of meat and a lot of veggies: lettuce, carrot, tomato, cabbage – but raw, and not cooked! For dinner, eat another orange and another 100 grams of sour cream. If you are very hungry during the day, you may have some reduced fat-content snack: a cereal bar, a biscuit, an apple – but avoid chocolate and fat. And also do not forget to drink 2 litres of water per day! For the other days, the rule is as follows: you may exchange the sour cream with the same amount of unflavored yogurt and the orange with another fruit, preferably apple, mandarin, kiwi, or maybe a smaller pear. For lunch, you would want to diversify the meat you eat: once chicken, once beef, once pork. Always add raw veggies without sauce. Also, you can add 1 or 2 eggs to one of your meals. If you do this for 4 days and eat normally for the other 3, and repeat it twice, you should lose those extra pounds! How to Make Gluten Free Amaretti Cookies (The Basic Art of Italian Cooking)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Wild Recipe for Special Occasions

Guest Blogger: Renata Toth Around Christmas, everybody is busy with cooking and baking. I usually spend more time in the kitchen than out, cooking for family. Although we have a few classic meals we like to prepare, from time to time it feels good to bring a little adventure to Holiday cooking and try something new. The wonderful piece of tender deer meat offered recently by a family friend was an exciting choice to change the traditional and well-known line of Christmas meals. Being my first time of preparing venison, I was thankfully wise enough not to chose the most difficult recipe and go for a delicate, exciting, but not very complicated dish, and still make it a powerful pre-Christmas main course. The quick preparation time also adds to the attractiveness of this recipe in the overcharged Christmas period, filled with cooking and shopping and cleaning and cooking again. Ingredients for 4: 4 bigger but thin slices or venison (or 8 small ones) salt and nutmeg (or use spice mix) 1 egg 40 gr flour 50 gr cleaned and sliced natural (not salted) almonds 200 gr sour cherry 30 gr butter 3 cl cognac Preparation: spice the meat mix flour and almonds beat the egg cover the meat in egg, then the flour and almond mix, and fry in hot oil for 5 minutes on both sides. melt the butter and boil the cherries in the butter for around 10 minutes, or until the sauce mostly disappears. add the cognac to the cherry, and light it. It should burn down in a few seconds. Serve hot. as side dish, prepare rice, mashed potatoes, oven-baked potatoes, or croquettes. The combination of deer, cherry and cognac gives a wonderfully warm, wintery and forest-like impression which is the best with potato croquettes that increase this feeling. Accompanied by a beautiful advent wreath as a classy centrepiece on the dining table, especially with cinnamon and orange scented candles and decorated by dried orange slices and nut shells, complete the cozy mood of a pre-Christmas dinner in family. For more great recipes get your copy of the Gourmand World Award Winning Book Series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions=2nd edition