Cranberry Cous Cous

I’m out for medical reasons, which I will go into later (nothing serious, but you can still send me presents), so my brain twin Kornberg wrote a couple posts for me. She’s so great; she also made me a cross stitch which will be featured later. To tide you over, here’s a recipe she wrote that I can’t wait to try:

Ok so I wanted to make something quick and easy for lunches–since it’s hot outside and I have to walk a lot, I wanted something that would not go bad in my lunch box.  This was inspired by a fancy cous cous dish I had eaten at work–my way is just as tasty and is super easy.

You will need:
pearl cous cous (2 cups at the bulk bins at HEB is $2)
craisins (or other dried fruit bits that are similarly sized)  (craisins are about $3 for a smallish bag)
garlic salt
olive oil
measuring cups
pot for boiling water
The pearl cous cous is a little harder to find but regular cous cous just isn’t as good with this recipe.  I get mine in the bulk bins but you can also find it with the regular boxed stuff.
This particular time, I used 1 cup of cous cous.  That tub holds 2 cups exactly if it’s full so I just re-use and refill it.  Follow the directions exactly–pearl cous cous is a little harder to work with than the regular kind.  I boiled 2 cups of water, added the cous cous and simmered it for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cous cous cooks like rice–you won’t have to strain or drain or anything; which is why it’s important to cook it according to the directions.  When it was done, I dumped it into my tupperware–no use dirtying up another bowl if it’s going there anyway.
I added between 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic salt and pepper to taste and a small palmful of craisins.  I really like to eat it cold, but it’s good warm.  Also changing ou the fruits is good too, once I chopped up a bunch of dried apricots I had lying around and tossed them in as well.  I love cooking with cous cous because it’s cheap and you can literally add anything to it.  You can make small amounts as a side dish or a big giant pile and feed it to vegetarians or vegans as an entree.  Sometimes I wilt some spinach or kale and toss that in there.
It was really hard for me to not inhale this thing immediately and to instead put the lid on and stick it in the fridge for tomorrow and I am too lazy to go to the store for more cous cous.  HOW WILL I SURVIVE??

June 19, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. Leave a comment.

Men’s shirt remake

Like most people, I have clothes laying around that I kind of like, but don’t “like” like. I have taken it upon myself to do something about this. Why are they taking up closet space, when they’re kind of “meh”? This one is a men’s button-up shirt I decided to turn into a tank top. Yes, I’m a huge fan of tank tops, but this is Texas; they’re a necessity, just like iced tea.

I used my seam ripper to remove the sleaves:

Then I used a ruler to cut the top off. I cut it above the top button I wanted to use, so I wouldn’t have to go back and add a button or button hole. You’re going to be hemming the top edge down, so make sure to leave extra fabric for that. I left about an inch.

Fold the top down and pin it, and make sure the front and back are relatively equal. To make sure your top seam is straight, measure the distance above the armpit on each side. I also used the front pocket as a guide. You can also use a light-colored, washable marker to make some guidelines for yourself. If you plan to do this, I would make small, light dots, and maybe even test it in an inconspicuous area, then run it through the wash, just to make sure it won’t stay on your shirt. Hem the top of your shirt.

I took each sleave and cut it in half length-wise:

To get these:

Then fold them in half, longways, inside out, and sew down the long edge. Flip this inside out and you have a tube. Two of these tubes are used for the straps, and you have the option to use the other two for tie-backs, if your shirt is a little too big, or you just like the look.

Here’s me trying it on, about mid-way through the process. I had pinned my straps too long, and the whole thing was too baggy. I’m nowhere near being a real seamstress, so I end up trying my creations on many times to get everything right.

Since it was too baggy, I decided to take it in along the sides. I just eyeballed it, and ran it through the sewing machine.

I used a ruler to make some dots to bring it in about an inch on each side.

The fit was much better after this, but I hated the neckline.

I folded the upper corners down and in to make more of a sweetheart neckline.

I’m much happier with this than I was, and it will look much better once I iron it. The good thing about getting most of my clothes at thrift stores, is that I don’t worry about experimenting on them. If you have a specific clothing item you want to alter, but you’re scared to try, try to find something similar at a thrift store you can gleefully destroy and use as learning experience. Finding something with similar material and cut would be the most useful, but altering anything will give you good experience. I just love how cute my hair was that day! Look at that instead of the wrinkles on the shirt. I know I am!

June 5, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts. 1 comment.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

I found this recipe for oatmeal apple bars that I wanted to try, but I didn’t have any apples. I did, however, have tons of strawberries, so I used those instead. For one 8×8 pan you will need: 1 cup flour, 1 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 1/2 cups fruit, and the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, but I substituted a mashed banana for 1/4 cup, and they were great. Depending on the type of fruit you use, you can also cut back on the sugar. I was reading that for baked goods with acidic fruits, like strawberries, adding a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda will help cut the tartness so you can use half as much sugar. I tried that trick with one batch of these, and they were okay. That might work better on pies, or other recipes that have a higher fruit content. I have made these using frozen, thawed strawberries, fresh strawberries, and now I’m trying home-canned pears (thanks, Mom!). Chop up your fruit, and mix everything together.

Spray your 8×8 pan with cooking spray, pour everything in there, and bake it at 350 for 35 minutes. They are mildly sweet, dense, and moist, similar to banana bread.

I can see a lot of variations possible with this basic recipe: mangoes, apples, peaches, raisins or other dried fruit. (With dried fruit, you should chop it up, then soak it in a bowl of water for a little while before mixing it into the batter). You can also add flavorings like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, or even some fancy alcohol like cognac. You could even throw in nuts, or leftover trail mix. Get crazy! You can also make a double batch, but you should probably make a triple batch, so you have plenty to give me.

June 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. 1 comment.

T-Shirt Revamp

I recently realized I can’t stand wearing regular T-shirts; I always feel like the neck is choking me. When I’ve bought new clothes (and by “new” I mean from the thrift store, so it’s new to me), I buy v-necks or tank tops, but what about the t-shirts I already have that I love, but can’t stand wearing? This is an easy way to turn them into tank tops!

I used a ruler to cut a straight line across the top of the shirt. You want to make the cut as high as possible so you retain as much shirt as possible.

Cut off the sleeves, using the seam as a guide. Cut the seam off, but retain as much t-shirt as possible.

So you end up with this:

The tutorial I found online said to cut a strip off the bottom of the shirt to use as the strap, but I chose to use the bottom of an overly-large shirt I made into a grocery bag. I actually cut 4 strips from it for different shirts so I could retain the length on these soon-to-be tank tops. You can also use ribbon or a draw string from something else.

Roll the top edge down once, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch:

Roll it down one more time to get the raw edge on the inside. Since this is jersey material, you don’t really have to worry about it unraveling, but this is how I chose to do it. You can see that part of the outer design will now be inside the shirt. It didn’t matter for this one, but keep that in mind when you are cutting and hemming on this project.

Do the same for the back edge. Pin boths hems, look at it to make sure you like it, then sew it up.

Now that you have basically 2 tubes along the top of the shirt, feed your t-shirt or ribbon strip through it. The easiest way to do this is to put a safety pin through one end, then push the safety pin through the tube. Tie it in a bow once you have it fed through and you get this:

This is a different finished product, but same process. You end up with a tank top that is gathered along the top on both front and back. If your shirt has one central design like this one, it’s important to pay attention to how much space the design will have once the gathers are in place. This alteration process is easiest with t-shirts that are slightly too big for you, or don’t have an image, or have a pattern that won’t be affected by this process. I would practice with something like that first, like I did with the four leaf clover shirt, before you touch something as gorgeous as my “Dream Girl” shirt here. It’s got a unicorn pegasus on it!!

June 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Arts and Crafts. 5 comments.