Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free shirt!

Sorry, I'm not handing out a free shirt. For a moment I thought maybe I'd make this a giveaway post, but I'm not that nice. Maybe someday in the future, if I get the idea that there would be enough interest.

(Grant just asked me if this blog is about anything now. I'm trying to stick to derby and/or cooking, but this shirt falls under "making stuff." Specifically, we could call it derby-related, but I'm going to wear it more than that, too.)

For those of you who don't know me very well, I'm a clothes-a-holic. I love buying clothes, specifically jeans, t-shirts and dresses. Because I work an office job Monday through Friday, I have more t-shirts than I know what to do with. A couple times a year, I go through my closets and give old things away to friends. But there are always shirts that I can't bear to part with, even though they're too big/small/short/awkward.

This was one of those shirts. It was given to me as a gift by someone who knows that I love both the Rolling Stones and classic rock t-shirts. It had been sitting in closets, unworn, for three or four years.

When I had a little free time, I started by cutting straight up the back.

This particular shirt didn't get worn often because it's a men's medium, which is too big for my style. Being fairly new to clothing modification, I thought that this oversized shirt would be a good place to start.

Then I cut the sleeves off to make a tank top. It's hot outside, and between derby practice and walking the dog I never have enough tank tops I like. I started by cutting just outside the seam in hopes that this will keep it from fraying in the wash too badly. It works for me for now.

I also made straps out of the back, cut as low as I could down the front, and cut pieces out of the back. But I didn't take pictures. That doesn't make this a very useful how-to, does it? In my defense, my hope here is to inspire you to pull out some rarely-worn shirts of your own and cut/sew/pin/tie them back to your liking. If it doesn't work out, you haven't lost anything.

Here are the scraps from the project. Surprisingly little was thrown away.

The front pretty much looks like a tank top. It's fairly long, scoop-necked with wide straps.

The back is open and tied around front in a tiny bow. It gives the openings an asymmetrical look, and most importantly shows off both of my tattoos. It also pulls the shirt in under the bust for a more feminine fit. If I decide later that this isn't quite working for me, I'll cut more out of the back and just tie it there.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No-Bake Cookies

There are some things that are not worth trying to make. Your spouse will never think they're right because they don't taste like Mom's, Grandma's, whoever's. For me, one of those things is no-bake cookies. Even though I've made them since I was a kid, I don't really love them. If someone else makes them, I'll steal pieces until they're all gone. But they're not my favorite.

Grant loves them. But specifically, he likes his mom's. (Hi, Joyce!) But as you may have noticed, I'm not his mom. My no-bakes are subpar. So he makes his own, mommy-style.

The secret? Marshmallow fluff. Grant measured his ingredients out ahead of time. If you have a dishwasher, this is an awesome idea. I don't, but he's washing his own dishes this time anyway.

Most recipes use quick-cooking oats, but I only ever buy regular. This is up to you. With regular, they absorb less so you may have to add a little extra.

Melt ingredients on the stove. As you probably know, they're no-bake, not no-cook.

Put down parchment or waxed paper.

Mix and melt ingredients.

Add fluff.

Mix in oats, and spread out to cool. You could also make individual cookies. Yeah, we're both lazy cooks.

No-Bake Cookies
(makes about 24)

1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup marshmallow fluff

1. Bring sugar, milk, butter and cocoa powder to a boil.
2. Boil 90 seconds.
3. Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter, oats, vanilla and marshmallow fluff.
4. Spread out to cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vegan BBQ (Really!)

Since I stopped eating meat about three years ago, there are few foods that I truly miss. One is pepperoni pizza, and the only pepperoni substitute I've tried smelled like dog treats. It did not taste much better, I don't think, but I've never eaten dog treats. In any case, now I eat olive pizza and I cope.

The other is barbecue. I'm from Kansas City, and we take our BBQ very seriously. It's everywhere, and it's really good. But it is not vegetarian. This is very sad, and very not okay.

A while back, Grant said one of his coworkers eats jackfruit that supposedly tastes like pulled pork.

Yeah, okay, whatever. WTF is jackfruit anyway? I ignored this as long as I could, but then I couldn't take it anymore. I'd been BBQ-less for far too long.

This is jackfruit, which you can find at some Asian markets and some grocery stores with large ethnic sections. (I got this one at HyVee.) Co-starring is barbecue sauce made about two miles from my work that contains Roasterie coffee. Use any barbecue you like, but check the ingredients if you're vegan. I don't know if all sauces are vegan.

Drain and rinse the jackfruit. It's funny-lookin' for sure.

Cover it in BBQ sauce. In the future, I'm doing three cans at once in a slow-cooker.

Add a little water and put it on the lowest heat your stove can maintain.

Stir frequently and add more water as needed to keep from burning. Cook about two hours, or until the jackfruit is tender. Then shred with two forks, the way you would with pork.

This took me 5-10 minutes, and made my hands a little sore. It's so worth it, though!

Use as you would BBQ pulled pork. I just put it on a bun or some bread as a sandwich. Low-fat and delicious! It's even better the next day, so you can make a lot and use it later in the week.

Vegan BBQ "Meat"
(serves 2-3 per can of jackfruit)

Canned jackfruit, drained and rinsed
BBQ sauce (any kind)

1. Put jackfruit in crock pot or saucepan. Cover completely with BBQ sauce. Add about 1/2 cup water to keep from burning.
2. Cook on low heat about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water as needed.
3. Shred with two forks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Croissant Pizza

It's Monday. I'd venture a guess that the only way you're awake and reading this is the mocha with an extra shot of espresso you're drinking. So here's an easy yet delicious dinner for you to make tonight. If you have kids, each person can make their own!

Croissant Pizzas
(feeds 2 per roll of dough)

Canned croissant dough, any flavor
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Desired toppings

1. Unroll croissant dough and place on sprayed cookie sheet. There are two large squares per roll, which makes two single-person pizzas.
2. Cover with pizza sauce.
3. Add desired toppings. We made one pepperoni, one olive, and one pepperoni-and-olive.
4. Cover with shredded cheese.
5. Bake at 350 until cheese is desired doneness, about 10 minutes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vodka Update

The vodka-as-skate-pad cleaner seems to be working pretty well. My $1 spray bottle leaks, so I duct taped around it. It's looks pretty ghetto, but I'm calling it "derby." When I go to put my pads on, they smell better than with dried Febreeze, but not great. I do kind of expect them to smell a little bad.

After my last practice on Wednesday, I sprayed my mouth guard to disinfect it as well. I'm anxious to see if it tastes like cheap vodka next time! But I'm having a tattoo touched up tonight and a wisdom tooth pulled in the morning, so sadly I'll be out of practice for almost a week anyway.

DeVee doodled on my vodka bottle last weekend for me. "It's for roller derby, officer, I swear!"

The spray bottle goes in my bag and the vodka bottle actually stays at home, but I love it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Don't expect this to taste like meat, but it's a filling, healthy and high-protein dinner! Online reviews of similar recipes insist that non-vegetarians love this. My husband won't touch it, so I can't say much one way or another. I think it's delicious, or I wouldn't share this with you.

Vegan Lentil Tacos
Adapted from

1 chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oil
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup taco seasoning

1. In a large nonstick skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil on medium-high until tender.
2. Add the lentils and taco seasoning. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
3. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
4. Uncover. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
5. Mash lentils slightly. (This doesn't work for me, so I remove about 1/2 cup, blend, return and mix.)

Then you can use the lentil taco "meat" like you would hamburger. I eat this on wheat tortillas with medium salsa and shredded cheddar cheese. You could of course add shredded lettuce, sour cream, whatever you want.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Derby Pad Disinfectant

My personal opinion: Febreeze + Sweat = Smells like Butt

I've been trying to use Febreeze Sport on my derby pads between practices and the result is more than I can bear. After looking around online and talking to some other girls, I'm trying something new...

Vodka + Spray bottle = Go

I like that it's cheap and doesn't have extra chemicals in it. I do need to be careful or my $1 spray bottle will leak in my bag. As long as the items dry between wearings, I don't smell anything and I'm happy. But if they don't, I smell like a hungover alcoholic.

Suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day Strawberry Cake

I wish I could take full credit for creating this recipe.

It was so delicious, I think everyone had seconds.

I rarely put whipped cream on desserts, but it made this extra-fun and -tasty.

Strawberry Summer Cake
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen, which adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (I used Silk coconut milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Butter a 10-inch pie pan, 9-inch deep-dish pie pan, or 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. (I used a 9-inch springform. This cake does not work in a standard 9-inch pie pan; it will overflow.)
3. In a large bowl, beat butter and just under 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt, mixing until just smooth.
4. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
5. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until starting to brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.
6. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tale of Two Lasagnas

A while ago, I shared my lasagna recipe. Sadly, I did not include many photos.

When I made lasagna on Wednesday, I later described it in a text as "epic lasagna." And I don't call anything "epic." To toot my own horn a little here, this lasagna really is that good.

As the title suggests, I made two. Well, two types—actually three lasagnas. One meaty lasagna to be eaten. One meaty lasagna to be frozen and given as a gift. And a veggie lasagna.

I'm not going to give the recipe again (it's linked above), but here are some photos of my lasagna-making run. Making three lasagnas at once is challenging, but I got this down a while ago. Add photo-taking to the mix? Holy crap.

Start by boiling water water for the pasta.

Make sure you have bread. And onions. I forgot about these onions, and they didn't make it into the lasagna. Shed a tear for us. But don't despair too much: a little birdie tells me these turned out fine anyway.

Start some hamburger cooking. I used two pounds of cheap meat (one per meaty lasagna).

Mix up cheese goo. I use a combination of mozzarella, grated Parmesan, Italian seasoning, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and eggs.

Put a quarter jar of sauce in the bottom of each pan you're using. This will keep it from sticking.

Shake it around so that the bottom is completely covered. I didn't even spray these this time; the sauce works perfectly. The one on the right here is for my meaty lasagna for friends. The one on the left is an aluminum pan to make a gift lasagna in. Food = Great Gift.

This is me mixing up the cheese go ingredients in no particular order. Sorry my photos are out of order...

I buy cheap Italian seasoning and go way overboard with it. This has not failed me yet.

The ratios are up to you. For three lasagnas, I used two pounds of mozzarella, a large container of fat-free cottage cheese, a large container of ricotta, two eggs, about a third a cup of Parmesan and a few tablespoons of Italian seasoning.

For the veggie lasagna, I'd planned to use mushrooms and red peppers, but a few days earlier I put the red pepper into a coconut curry tofu I made for myself. So improvising, I did spinach, mushroom and broccoli. Now I want to make it this way on purpose every time. Yum!

In making cheese goo, I always dump in the cheese first. This isn't important. This is also out of order. Sorry again.

This is the cottage and ricotta cheese. Partway through, I made the executive decision to only use one container of ricotta. It probably would have been fine either way. Now I have ricotta to make into something.

Grant likes meat-flavored Ragu. My opinion is: ew. I like chunky, tomatoey healthy sauces. His opinion: ew. So to each our own in our lasagnas. Use whatever you like. Or make your own. I never make my own. As you may have noticed in my out-of-order photos, I'm often lazy.

Add the proper sauce to the browned and drained meat. For two pounds of meat, I used a whole jar of sauce. (Plus half a jar for the two bottoms and half a jar for two tops: coming later.)

 Cooked veggies and steamed spinach goodness.

I used two boxes of lasagna noodles for two lasagnas and still had about half a box left over. Personally, I like wheat noodles but didn't buy them this time.

If you're making three lasagnas, you'll have to be quick and crafty.

Put lasagna in water as soon as it boils. Add a little oil to keep from sticking if you'd like.

Earlier shots of veggies to be cooked in a little oil and butter. Stupidoutoforderphotos.

Wilting spinach. You could buy frozen or canned spinach, but this is fun! (And I am weird.)

This was a ginormous container of baby spinach. It cooked down to just enough for one lasagna.

Wilt, wilt, wilt.

Fresh spinach!

As soon as a little wilts in the hot water, add more.

It'll wilt soon, too. Keep stirring.

So pretty.

I started with just a little water in a hot saucepan.

Layer lasagna with noodles first, then cheese goo, then meat or veggie sauce layers.

See, noodles first. Sigh...

Mmm, veggie goodness layer...

Make sure to save some sauce to top this with or the top noodles will burn. I forgot this once and still have not fully lived it down.

Top it all with another layer of cheese.

And top that with a little Parmesan, and more Italian seasoning for color if you have it. This my gift lasagna to be frozen for later.

Bake until the top looks as done as you'd like. I, uh, forgot to take a picture of that... Once the top cheese is melted and starting to brown, the egg in the middle will have set perfectly. Eat up!