Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mandy's Bytes: Vegetable Tian

Today's recipe I found courtesy of Food Gawker, which led me to the recipe for Vegetable Tian as presented over at For the Love of Cooking. A tian is basically any casserole of roasted vegetables and cheese, and this one looked especially delicious so I had to try it. The ingredients are very simple:

Vegetable Tian
- 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1 large sweet yellow onion cut in half and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 3 large Roma tomatoes
- Sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Dried thyme, to taste
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

 Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Since I didn't trust myself to simultaneously saute onions and slice veggies without messing something up, I prepped all the vegetables first. You want to cut the potatoes, squash, zucchini and tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Halve the onion and then slice it thinly. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
Once the onions are translucent, add the minced garlic to the pan and saute for another minute. Prepare a baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray. Usually a tian would be made in a round baking dish, but I used a rectangular one, since that's what I had handy. After the garlic and onions have sauteed spread the mixture over the bottom of your baking dish.
Over the top of the onions you want to layer the other veggies, rotating types to create a colorful pattern. I had a few extra slices of zucchini and squash that I ended up sticking in the gaps here and there. Also the recipe calls for 3 tomatoes, I only used two and still had enough tomato to cover the whole dish.
Season the vegetables with salt, pepper and thyme to taste, don't be stingy either, I salted lightly and just ended up putting more salt on it later. After seasoning drizzle the remaining 1 tsbp of olive oil over the veggies. Cover the dish with tin foil or parchment paper, or you can use a covered baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, at this point the potatoes should be tender.
After the first 30 minute bake, uncover the dish and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven uncovered and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. When finished the veggies will be roasted to perfection and covered with a tasty crust of melted cheese.
This is a delicious side dish that is easy to make, and would be good with just about anything. My original menu featured pasta with Italian sausage in vodka sauce, but because I'm only human, we ended up enjoying it with some frozen thin crust garlic chicken pizza instead.
Together they made quite the garlic overload but it was a fabulous dinner.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

True Vintage Inspiration

In my recent post about our forays into goth fashion and terry cloth experiments I mentioned that we had received a wonderful gift of vintage fabric. This came from a friend of Cami's who inherited the fabric from her grandmother and thought we would make good use of it. There were definitely some awesome pieces in there and we finally got around to taking some pictures to share with you all.

This stack is some awesome floral prints, my personal favorites are the tiny prints. They are so bright and colorful. Perfect for a pop of color for the waistband and straps of an apron.
Cami's selections were, of course, the green fabrics. The floral shown is simply gorgeous with a painted look about it, bright greens and yellows with screen printed crisp white accents.
This batch reminds me of a vintage kitchen, lemon yellows and bright primary colors. The yellow apple print is especially cute.
We aren't sure how "vintage" this last one is but we couldn't pass it up! It's an awesome collection of animals from these birds, to piranha looking fish, cows, and some we're not quite sure about.
Which fabric is your favorite? What style of apron would you like to see it on?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Dane Youngren

One of the things we've learned to appreciate since entering the crafting community is the support we've received from other artists. We wanted to pay it forward and support other artists as well, and our first step in doing so is this interview of another local artist: Dane Youngren. Dane talked to us about his work in the following interview.
Dane Youngren
DoW: What in your life led you to this type of art?
D.Y.: I grew up on my family’s dairy farm and spent my childhood not only working but also gathering all kinds of leftover materials and scrap lumber. I would build things and explore the old structures and barns on our property. Our land bordered the railroad, and so there was also this influx of thoughts and a fascination I developed with this industry, which influenced me to create art that is a mixture of the rural and the industrial, those in-between spaces in our world that we often overlook.
DoW: Pick three words to describe yourself as an artist.
D.Y.: Ambitious, passionate, rational.

DoW: What feelings/thought does your art evoke in you?
D.Y.: My work is a mixture of nostalgia and melancholy. It elicits excitement in me to examine these structures yet also brings about feelings of remorse as these types of things in our environment are disappearing and on the decline.
DoW: What do you think it evokes in others?
D.Y.: I think my viewers are quickly able to read in to this same kind of message. Some are reminded of a particular place, and others haven’t had that same kind of experience but make connections to things they know to exist in our world.

DoW: What is your favorite medium and WHY?
D.Y.: You might have guessed that I’m drawn to the ceramic medium, there is some kind of connection I immediately felt with clay. I enjoy the technical challenges of working in the material and find that it is quite versatile. I also like the idea of permanency and fragility that my work conveys as a result of the material.
DoW: If you could only have one tool to work in clay with which one would it be?
D.Y.: My most important ones are a fettling knife for cutting and a needle tool for making incisions. I’d been lost without them and so if I had to chose one, I’d pick something that’s in between and can perform both tasks comfortably. Maybe I’ll have to design it myself!

DoW: Your work is mostly black/white- what made you decide against color?
D.Y.: It’s true that much of my work earlier work is void of bright vibrant colors, but more recently I’ve been exploring a wider color palette. I’ve run hundreds of glaze tests and have still found that my work is best completed with earth tones—browns, blacks, and greens to name a few general hues. It’s not so much that I’ve decided against other possibilities, but for this type of work it just makes sense. I’m mostly going off intuition.
DoW: Who is your favorite artist?
D.Y.: There are so many inspiration artists working today, and I particularly am intrigued by those who are also challenging the ceramics medium. There’s a photographer, Frank Gohlke, who I was recently introduced to. My work shares similar subject matter, and it’s interesting to me to see how the medium impacts the experience for the viewer.

DoW: What would your ideal art studio look like?

D.Y.: I have learned enough about myself and my working process over the last few years to know that I need ample working space. Like my sculptures, my ideal studio would be large and have state-of-the-art facilities to produce my work. It would include all the high-end equipment, like large gas fired kilns, that I’ve come to depend on. I like things well constructed and would view the architecture of the space as an art project in itself.
DoW: Where do you plan to work now that you have graduated?
D.Y.: I’ve applied to various residencies and have started to do a lot of self-employment type work like entering art competitions and shows. My goal is to eventually support myself in an artistic capacity. I plan to attend graduate school in the fall of 2012 to further my art education and attain a professional degree in the field. This would open more opportunities and the potential to teach in the college or university setting.
DoW: How can admirers contact you? Are any of your pieces for sale?
D.Y.: The best way to contact me is by email; I welcome any questions or comments and do my best to reply in a timely manner. The pieces I am entering in various shows will be listed for sale. My overall goal is that the work would impact as many people as possible in various venues nationally and internationally in art shows and in the gallery setting before it enters a private collection. The ideal scenario would be for my work to reside in a museum where it would be available for viewing by the public.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mandy's Bytes: Homemade Pizza Rolls

Anybody who likes those frozen Pizza Rolls as much as I do will love today's recipe. Sure, it does take a little more time and effort than microwaving a plate of frozen goods, but I think it's worth the quality difference. There's not really a strict ingredient list for these but you'll need:
Pizza Rolls:
- Pillsbury or any generic brand pizza dough,the kind in a can
- Pizza or marinara sauce
- Your choice of shredded cheese and "toppings"
- Egg white for glaze (optional)
We used some cheddar and Monterrey jack, Canadian bacon and pepperoni.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get your bakeware ready, you can spread them out on a cookie sheet if you like, but I prefer using a glass pie dish, you could probably also use a standard round cake pan.

Spraying the dish with cooking spray and sprinkling bread crumbs or corn meal on the bottom makes it a lot easier to get them out when they are done baking.
Cami's cat Calypso was particularity interested in the piles of pepperoni...
Unroll the can of pizza dough and cut it into squares, three by four ways works pretty well to make 12 good sized rolls from each can of dough. Spread about a half a spoonful of sauce onto the square of dough, then sprinkle cheese on top, add toppings, and finish it off with more cheese. Bring together the corners of the dough and pinch them shut.
Once you have the contents well contained in the dough, line them up on your baking sheet or pie dish. At this point there's lots of options for additional seasoning or decoration. We used egg white to glaze the rolls and sprinkled some basil on top, you can also top with cheese or other spices.
When you bake them just follow the baking instructions on your dough. We baked these at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and they came out nice and golden brown.
Serve them up with the extra pizza sauce, marinara, ranch, or whatever your favorite pizza dipping sauce is. These are quick and easy, and do not survive uneaten for very long once they've cooled.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our Latest Projects: Practical and Punk Rock

Since the craft fair we've been working a few new exciting things for our shop. The first of these was inspired by a custom order request we received for a goth style apron. We'd considered making them before but weren't sure how much of a market there would be. It has definitely been one of the most fun aprons we've made, Cami and myself having both gone through goth phases ourselves. The end result was this awesome piece which seems like it should be worn by a horror movie butcher villain or mad scientist.
Zipper Doo Dah Custom Apron
On the more practical side of things we also rekindled another idea we had been sitting on for a while. We had been meaning to make some aprons with terry cloth skirts, for the messier cooks out there (I know I always need a place to wipe my hands), and finally we stumbled upon a copious stack of terry cloth at the fabric store, on display. It just screamed to us "Use me for aprons!" So we snatched up a large piece of red terry cloth, knowing full well what we would pair it with and so was born the lovechild of ingenious practicality and irresistible vintage style:
Up-cycled Strawberry Terrycloth Apron
We crafted this awesome apron from vintage applique quilting squares our grandma gave us on our recent visit to Florida, the vibrant red terry cloth, and some authentic vintage green polka dot fabric that was given to us in a treasure trove of vintage fabric.
I had to try pretty hard to talk myself out of keeping this one...
And when I saw authentic vintage I mean it, no joke, that fabric had a frail paper yardage tag stapled to it with the notes written in pencil marking it at 99¢ a yard. I'll have pictures of all that fabric and some of the things we've used it for so far in our next post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

First of all I want to congratulate my partner in crime on her graduation from Pharmacy school. That's right, we all have to call her Dr. Cami now.
Dr. Cami, Pharmacist, Creative Mastermind, Evil Genius?
Due to some slight procrastination on my part, we have a lot of catching up to do! We've been up to some pretty fun projects since the Maple Valley Craft Bazaar, which of course I haven't even told you about yet. But the longer I put it off the more there will be to write, so back on the horse it is.
We made a portfolio of our aprons for the show.
The craft bazaar was an awesome learning experience for us, and considering that it was our first, I feel pretty satisfied with our results. Not only was it an awesome opportunity to meet other artists in the area, it also gave us incredible insight on what we want to do differently next time. We even sold two aprons, imagine that!
How not to display aprons. When did this seem like a good plan??
Next time we are planning to use a smaller table, if we use one at all, and plan to use a clothes rack, or a standing hat rack to hang our aprons. We found that the table display just didn't to them justice and people were much more drawn to the aprons on the dress forms, two of which were so kindly lent to us by Jennifer of Jenna's Red Rhino.
Clearly we need more dress forms...
And what fun would it have been without doing a little shopping for ourselves? Here are some of the goodies we got at the show. Cami picked out this beautiful necklace from Jenny who runs the shop A Bird in the Hand Art, and I nabbed those super cute earrings.
 I also picked up this adorable owl print wallet from Kristianne who sells some really fun accessories in her shop Made By Kazee. Cami bought a matching purse and she swears that she's going to share it with me.
Cami and our mom also managed to sneak off and bought me an awesome Forest Friends lunch bag from Schnitzel and Boo, just like the one shown but with a red gingham napkin, that I had been keeping my eye on all day. It's just too cute with the little squirrels, racoons, and possums.
Overall the show was a lot of fun and a milestone for us in our crafting adventures. In other recent news we also received a generous gift of quite a copious amount of vintage fabric, how exciting! I'll be taking pictures of our new loot and post about our ambitious plans for it soon. Keep an eye out for another post in a day or two about a couple of our newest projects that we're really excited about!
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