Monday, January 30, 2012

Acorn Squash Salad--for those squash dislikers like myself

I have never liked Squash.  We aren't friends.  I've heard about how cheap and healthy it is for you, but really, squishy squashy slimy just doesn't appeal to me.  But occasionally I try again.

There was acorn squash on sale at the grocery store in the fall, and I dutifully bought one and baked it and discovered that with brown sugar and cinnamon and baked until it wasn't slimy, it wasn't bad.

So every one in a while, I'll buy an acorn squash, bake it, cut it up for my girls to eat and feel like a good mom.

Let's be honest about something here.  I'm not a chef by any means of the word.  But the Man is artistic by nature and he loves to create in the kitchen as well.  Sometimes I feel like I've got to get out there and show some creative cooking spirit just to keep up.  I mean really, I do have about 30 years more experience cooking than he does.

Today I felt a creative urging and the munchies at the same time, so instead of wandering over to my sewing machine, I looked in the fridge.  There was that acorn squash I'd bought a while back, and I really should do something with it before it goes bad.  Does it go bad?

A long time ago, I read a post at Two Peas and Their Pod about a butternut squash salad, and I thought.  Hmm, we've got lettuce.  I should try that.

So I sliced up the squash into bite sized chunks.  I've heard that you should bake the whole squash for a little while to soften it before you cut into it.  I believe it.  It was pretty hard, and difficult to chop.  But I managed.

Then I scooped the seeds and goop out.

It's important to chop them into somewhat the same sized pieces because then they'll bake at the same rate, and you won't get some that burn and some that are still crunchy.

I lay the chunks out on a cookie sheet, sprayed them generously with oil, and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and brown sugar.  Also generously.  Can't have too much cinnamon and brown sugar in my mind.

Then I baked them at 350 F for about 40 minutes.  The last ten minutes I occasionally poked a fork into a thicker piece to see if it was soft.  I wanted them not crunchy, but not mushy, so I kept my eye on them.

Meanwhile, I separated the seeds from the goop, spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet covered with foil, sprayed them down with oil too, and sprinkled them with course salt.  I popped those in the oven until I could smell them--about 10-15 minutes.

While that all was baking, I got my salad ready.  Pretty simple:  lettuce and grated cheddar.  Didn't really have time or the interest in anything else.  I thought the squash would be flavor enough.

And the dressing?  Somewhere I got it in my mind that vinaigrette is simply oil, vinegar and something sweet.  So I put olive oil, white vinegar and brown sugar together in a bowl and whipped it together until it blended, and then dashed some serious cinnamon ontop and mixed it again.  (Like I said, can there be too much cinnamon and brown sugar?)

The Man, (who doesn't like just anything) loved it.  He said it had just the right amount of different textures.  Soft squash, crunchy seeds, lettuce, cheese.  And the flavors were balanced too:  salty seeds, sweet dressing savory squash and cheese.

Well what do you know?  I made something creatively good to eat!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Colored Sugar Playtime

 I got this idea from someone, and I don't remember who, so I'm sorry to copycat without giving credit.  I don't know exactly what they used, but I saw a picture of a child drawing on a tray with colored sand.
We don't have sand handy, so I used sugar and food coloring.
 The food coloring didn't mix evenly, and I liked the sparkle of the sugar and the flecks of darker and lighter colored granules.

We haven't experienced much sand in the past two and a half years, so Kewpie was fascinated with the way it moves and feels on your hands.  I enjoyed it too.

As you can imagine, it made a bit of a mess. But this little black-and-white-minded-one needs to be able to make a mess and understand that sometimes it's ok to be messy.

When we got bored, we poured it into a bag for another day.  Easy to make, fun to do, pretty easy clean up.  We'll definitely be doing it again.
Thank you, whoever you are, for the good idea.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tube Top to Sundress

Last fall I found this tube top at a garage sale. Bought it for 50 cents.

Kewpie Doll loves wearing dresses, and this is the perfect casual sundress for her.  All I had to do was add straps. 

I went for tie straps because it's so long I figured we could wear this for a while. I used black ribbon, applied fray check on the ends so they wouldn't fray and attached each one in two places to keep them from ripping out.

This takes the cake as the easiest project ever. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Toy Stroller Refurbish

Anyone who's had a toy stroller knows how they break. Someone sits in it or stands in it or does something to it and the fabric tears.

We actually have two toy strollers that are ripped.  When the second one ripped, I figured it was time to do some fixin'.

Lucky for me, I had the bottoms of some pant legs, when I cut them off for shorts for The Man last summer.  They were tactical pants, with ripstop fabric, and I knew they'd come in handy.  Very handy.

I cut the leg open and traced the old, torn cover onto the fabric.  There are two pieces, the top and bottom, and I was surprised they both fit on one pant leg.

I arranged it to have the bottom of the pant leg where the legs are in the stroller because I was going to use the velcro on the pants to attach it to the stroller.  Each pant leg had one velcro, so I simply detached the velcro strip from the second pant leg and sewed it on to this one.

Isn't Kewpie tough looking?  She's concentrating hard to hold the flap right, so she can't also think to smile.

I had to piece together the bottom part so that the flaps would fit.  I serged it and then sewed double seams, just as elsewhere on the fabric, because I knew we'd need some strength here.

Once I'd sewed the top and bottom pieces together, it was time to reattach it to the stroller.  Our stroller uses screws to attach it at the top. 
I made the hole in the fabric for the screw, applied some fray guard, put the screw in and reattached.

 Now you can sit in it all you want.