Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cheese that goes crunch! Really!

Over the years I've had a lot of success losing weight with a low-carb lifestyle. I've done it on my own, I've done it at a weight-loss clinic, I've done it on this last fad diet I was on (which I'll be starting up again on Monday). I always gain weight back, but I never go through a maintenance phase - I just head right back into "normal" eating. I hope this time will be different, and I'm going to work toward that, but I still have a long way to go before I get to that point. Mostly I just want to get back to a more normal weight and am working toward that goal.

What I miss most about eating low-carb is the lack of crunch. I can live without potato chips. I can live without popcorn (but not without complaining). I can live without corn chips, although I crave them and it is a struggle. In the past, whenever the urge for crunch becomes too much to bear, I always fall back on pork rinds. I know that grosses out a lot of people, but I like them and it satisfies my need to hear my food as I'm eating it.

So this week I was craving crunch. Muchly craving crunch. I've looked in three stores for pork rinds, but can't find them anywhere. Maybe they're more a southern thing? Although I've lived in Maryland most of my life, and I remember my father eating them when I was a child. But right now? Not a rind to be found. So what's a crunch-crazed girl to do?

Enter crunchy cheese.

Crunchy cheese - food you can hear!
These puffy, crunchy morsels started out as a lowly piece of yellow American cheese. The kind you can buy in large presliced bricks at any discount box store. Not the sort wrapped in plastic - they taste like plastic and I don't know if they'd work here.  The sort of cheese always on sale at a local grocery store.

 I simply cut each slice into 9 little squares. I arranged them in a circle on a small piece of parchment paper, leaving a little room in case they decided to spread. Then microwaved them for about 38 seconds. They puff a little, spread a little, and dry out a lot, toasting a bit from the center out. After they cool (which takes about 20 seconds), peel them off the parchment and put them on a towel lined plate for further cooling. And taste testing.

And whenever I crave crunch? I eat a handful of these. I'm staying low carb, and even if I eat 18 of them (which is a lot for one sitting - usually 9-10 do the trick for me), I've only eaten the equivalent of two pieces of cheese, and maybe 2-3 carb.

I love them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

O Spaghetti Squash, I Used To Hate You So ...

I've never been a fan of spaghetti squash. You know how sometimes when you eat a certain food it coats your teeth and makes them feel furry? Yes, that.

But my daughter and I have lost quite a bit of weight these past few weeks (see this post about the chicken insanity inspiration: and I'm looking for low carb meals to enjoy while we're on the weight-stabilizing phase of our eating plan. We love pasta, but neither of us enjoy how we feel after we eat it - me especially. Wheat is an inflammatory food, and my knees always hurt muchly the day after a pasta dinner.

So I've convinced myself that I'm going to learn to like spaghetti squash. I'm going to look past the furry teeth and try to move beyond the slippery noodles that don't hold the sauce and learn to love this low calorie, low carb vehicle for pasta sauce.

This is the dish I made earlier this week. (Link to recipe here - this is not my original recipe or my excellent food photography:


And you know what? My teeth didn't feel furry, the sauce clung nicely to the squash strands, and I almost felt like I was eating pasta! My middle grandson (who is 5) loved it. We didn't tell him he was eating squash until he was finished, but he guessed. I'm pretty sure he'll eat it again. Maybe it wasn't cooked enough when I've had it in the past? Maybe I just wasn't old enough? (Although if  5-year old can eat it and like it, seems like being in my 50s would be plenty old enough.) The 3-year old didn't like it, but oddly enough, he ate the squash, not the chicken and sauce. And the 14-year old would eat the guinea pig, the Chihuahua Brothers and the cat if I cooked them and served them with ketchup, so I wasn't surprised he ate this.

Whatever the reason I like spaghetti squash now, I'm glad. Because tonight, we're having this:

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas
Except I'm subbing Italian turkey sausage for the chickpeas. (recipe here because this is also NOT my recipe or food photography:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Reason to Make Cupcakes!

Easter is coming soon. We don't do anything big - the kids get baskets and they'll probably go to their other grandmother's house for dinner with their parents. Or not - I don't know what the plans are at this point. Their preschool parties are this week: Mace's was Wednesday and Gavin's is tomorrow afternoon.

So this happened Tuesday evening for Mace's party:

And this happened tonight for Gavin's party:

Mace's comment: I ate some of my cupcake, Grammy, but I didn't like the crunchy stuff on the top (which was just yellow cake-decorating sugar). Gavin didn't seem fond of them either - he inhales sugar, but didn't want to try these.

The Peeps are hollowed out slightly, and the chicks are sitting on a chocolate egg and some spring-colored sprinkles, which will be a fun surprise when the kids eat them. The frosting is a slightly sweet cream cheese frosting, whipped until fluffy, and the lick of it I had was heavenly. I'm really hoping Gavin likes them ...

I love making cupcakes!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Little Chicken Insanity

So my daughter and I have been on this diet lately. It's a fad diet, so I won't go into the details, but I will say we've both lost a good amount of weight in a short time. And I'm all about the instant gratification of seeing scale numbers go down on a regular basis. The food choices are very limited, though, and we've been eating chicken quite often. A LOT of chicken. And since vegetable choices are also limited, I've been searching and searching for ways to prepare said chicken, so you might say I've had chicken on the brain these past five weeks.

And when I have one thing on my mind for a long amount of time, something like this invariably happens:

Front view
Side View
It's been rather gray and dreary here, too, as late March is apt to be, and I've been longing for the colors of summer. Thankfully the chicken we've been eating doesn't come in these colors, although I do wonder if it would taste more like cake if it did ...

Pattern available here:

or here:

The End (hahahaha!)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Project vs. Process

I'm all about the process. I love to crochet, I love to knit. But I don't care whether or not I ever finish what I'm working on. I have many single socks that may or may not ever have a mate. It took me a very long time to understand why I'm that way, and part of the answer came after we participated in the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator years ago at the company where I worked at the time. I'm all INFP, baby - no answers in any other category except those, so I'm pretty extreme in my personality.

As an INFP, I'm extremely introverted. That doesn't mean shy, although I am a little on the shy side. It just means I'm exhausted after a morning of talking to people at market on Saturday. I enjoy talking to them, I just need a few hours to regroup and get my energy back afterwards. I'm also a "big-picture" person. I can see the end result, just not the steps to get there. Or I can see the steps, but I don't care about taking them. I want to get from Point A to Point B without having to go to points A.1, A.2, A.3, etc. I'm a feeler - I care about what other people are feeling. I want to know that people like what I'm making. I spent a good deal of time with my market customers asking how something makes them feel, and I'm very interested in their answers. And I'm never, ever on time, and if I am by some chance on time, I had to work very hard to get there, often managing to convince myself that I had to be where I was going a half hour early so that I managed to arrive somewhat on time. Time doesn't matter much to me, except that it passes much too quickly most of the time.

So all that leads back [somehow] to my original point of being a process crocheter/knitter rather than a project crocheter/knitter, which I really think ties into my personality. I love the feel of the yarn running through my fingers. I love counting my stitches. I love looking at the pattern the self-striping yarns make as I work with them. I love imagining how the finished project will look (because odds are not in the project's favor that it will ever actually be finished). I love making all the little pieces for the amigurumi I create. I don't like the stuffing part. I sometimes don't much like the sewing part, so sometimes the stuffed pieces sit for a while until I have so many finished that I have to put them together in self defense. I do love making their little faces, where the slightest variation of a stitch can change their whole expression. After they're [finally] finished, I like to imagine how my customers will feel about them. Will they smile when they see them? Will they give them as a gift, making someone else smile in the process?

Now these bowls? I love the whole stinking process, which means I actually get finished projects!

I love the crocheting. I love watching the colors shift or blend, and I love thinking about how they'll look when finished as I'm working on them. I love the felting process - I stand by the washer the entire time, taking them out every few minutes to see how much they've felted and how much they've changed. I love taking them out and rinsing them in cold water and feeling the fabric draw together and seeing how the colors emerge or recede and this happens. I love shaping them into the perfect bowl - big or little, deep or shallow depending on how the yarn felts. I love watching them dry in the sun and transform into fuzzy little vessels. I love the tedious process of trimming off the fuzz to see the beauty of the felted fabric beneath. I love everything, start to finish, about the felted bowls I make - maybe because each step of making them is so different than the step before that it seems like a totally separate project? Whatever the reason(s), I'm just glad they're something I can finish!

 Felted Bowls drying in the sun and awaiting defuzzing ...

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Woefully Neglected Blog

Yes, it's been almost three months. In my defense ... well, I have no defense. How hard is it to add a few paragraphs about what I've been up to? Unless, I haven't been up to much, and that seems to be the case here.

I had a craft show a few weeks ago. It was so-so. I did make back my table fee plus a little bit, so that was ok. But then I passed Taco Bell on the way home and I was starving, so I spent money I shouldn't have on dinner that ended up making me just a little bit sick.

I have a craft show coming up next Saturday, 4/12. Hopefully there won't be a Taco Bell between there and home after it's over. Or hopefully I'll have a little will power to resist the siren song of nachos belle grande ...

Here's something I designed for this show, which is the weekend before Easter:

I was internet surfing a little while ago, and I found something really, really similar, proving once again that there are no original ideas left in the world! Or very few.

I'll also be working on zombie bunnies (zombie pigs, zombie hearts and zombie kitty puffs, too) as something a little different for older kids' Easter gifts. I have plenty of soaps left from the last craft show, so no need to make new ones for this show, even though I have a ton of ideas for them.

Market season is coming up quickly. I'm not prepared, but I'm working on it. I'm thinking instead of driving an hour and a half each and every Saturday, I'll just do market on the first and third Saturdays of each month. And we'll see how that goes. It's too expensive with gas and tolls to go every weekend, especially when historically there are some weekends when I don't make enough to cover those expenses.

So that's what happening in my little corner of the world!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where did the last week go?

Time just flew past last week and here it is Monday already!

I drove back to PA yesterday to pack up some of my stuff. I think I ended up getting about half of it moved, with the other half to come this Sunday. My brother is a genius at packing my car and managed to get just about everything I wanted to bring tucked into all the nooks and crannies. My daughter thinks I have a ton of crap and is looking forward to organizing all my various crafting supplies. She's only seen half of it ... LOL! I still don't have my work table, chair or task light here, so not much crafting will go on this week. But look out next week!

Still not panicking about the numbers - it's just January and I should be able to get started next week.

Finished Crafts 1/12/14
Amigurumi: 0
Soap: 0
Soap dishes: 0
Greeting cards: 0
Jewelry: 0
Miscellaneous: 0