Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lovely Beans, Wonderful Beans!

I've been making a lot of food from scratch lately- chocolate chip bran muffins, all types of bread, hamburger and hot dog buns, refried beans, dried and frozen strawberries.

I love the creamy refried beans I get with my Mexican dinners in the restaurants, so I finally looked up a recipe and learned how to make them.

Soak your beans for a few hours in cold water (I left them soaking for 10 hours while I was at work yesterday).

Alternately, you can boil water and cover the beans with that and let them soak for an hour.

Change water and simmer beans for an hour and a half or two hours, or until you can smash a bean on the side of the pan with your wooden spoon. Add some salt and simmer a bit longer. For added depth, boil beans with a ham hock or a few pieces of raw bacon.

When your beans are almost done, saute up half an onion and a few cloves of garlic in oil. When they are soft, add the beans and mash them all together, saving the warm beanwater (I use a potato masher).

When the beans are all mashed, add your warm beanwater (doesn't that sound appetizing? You can drink the leftover beanwater if you want) and stir. Make your beans a little runnier than you would like because they harden up when they cool.

Voila! Delicious refried beans. Enjoy in burritos or my favorite, with Doritos.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sew Sew Sew

I've been sewing a bit lately, which is unusual because it's mostly a winter hobby for me.

For my cousin Jennifer's baby's birth (I think she had her c-section a couple of hours ago. Eee!), I decided to make her a quilt. Since she not only threw me a baby shower but also cleaned the dirtiest parts of my house (bathroom and kitchen), and I offered to throw her a shower and then didn't, I racked my brain to figure out what could make up for that heinous shortfall.

A homemade quilt seemed the closest thing, so I got some brown and periwinkle (Baby Jimmy's colors of choice) animal prints and a big swath of robots and astronauts on the moon (for the back).

I made a baby quilt from a kit a week prior, and the tiny blocks with slippery minky and satin fabric took much longer than I'd anticipated. I made the blocks for Jen's quilt nice and big, and I only used cotton. It went much faster and was a lot easier to cut and sew. Nuts to that synthetic fabric!
Everything went swimmingly until I got to the binding. It's a nice bright orange to match the lions, two inches wide and satiny soft. I made my dad a minky blanket for Xmas and completely butchered the binding, so I kept that in mind as I attached my hulking zig zag foot to my sewing machine (a vintage Singer 301A which only does straight stitches).

I practiced a bit and figured out how to make nice wide zig zags, then started in on the binding. Modern sewing machines zig zag by moving the needle, but my 1950s machine has a big foot that actually moves the fabric. Side to side it zigged and zagged, I pulled on the binding, and after a couple of feet I could tell that my top layer of binding was getting longer than the bottom layer.

I ripped it all out and am now on the prowl for a new machine. (Whether I can afford one or not is a matter of debate.)

My darling friend Dawn is going to finish sewing the binding for me and if it's anything like the blanket she made for Smacky, it will be perfect. Then I can get a new machine that's a little more sophisticated, and I can start using my feet to do all the work. There's a foot for almost everything, even making ruffles. I have been living in the dark ages, I tell you. The DARK AGES!