Tag Archives: Here’s how I made it

Inspiration: Last minute upcycled gift tags

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I’m a lazy gift wrapper, so if I can really avoid it, I’ll ditch the gift tag. As long as I remember who it’s supposed to go to, that’s fine, right?

Not this year. Instead of my normal habit of forgetting to shop until the week before Christmas, I decided to get most of the important purchases done during the first week of December. My family opens gifts on or around Epiphany, so trying to remember which gift is for whom after a whole month sounded a bit too much for my aging brain. Instead, I figured I’d use leftovers from around the house to make gift tags instead of buying them and save myself the embarrassment of giving lipstick to my father.

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Inspiration: Pineapple chicken

After using fresh pineapple to make a whole freezer full of popsicles, I had some leftover pineapple. While it was good enough to eat straight, I wanted to try something.

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Pineapple has proteolytic enzymes, so it makes a really good addition to marinades. These enzymes break down chains of proteins in the meat, making smaller protein chains — and thus making the meat more tender. My family doesn’t usually eat meat, and I’m honestly not that fond of meat dishes that are sweet or sticky (barbecue sauce is for baked fries, not meat~~), but I was interested to see how pineapple was with chicken. I used about 1/8 of a whole pineapple per breast. The pineapple could probably be pureed if you would rather have a saucier look, but I wanted cooked chunks of pineapple.

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Pineapple chicken dishes are usually Asian or Pacific-based, simply because pineapple is such a tropical/Pacific-island fruit. With that in mind, I checked around the web for simple yet flavorful marinades, and soy sauce was used as the base in most of them. I measured about 1/2 tsp per breast.

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Since my family likes spice, I added some sriracha sauce to taste — however, red pepper paste or pureed pepper would also work. Sriracha has vinegar, which is also useful in marinades. However, some brands also use xanthan gum, which is a bacterial product (so be careful if anything bacterial grosses you out).

I used chopsticks to thoroughly mix the marinade and coat the chicken pieces; afterward, I poked holes in the chicken on both sides. If the marinade isn’t wet enough to coat the chicken, add some vinegar (white vinegar works well, but rice vinegar would also work). However, be careful when mixing vinegar and soy sauce — it can get very salty very fast.

I prepared this the night before and placed it in the refrigerator to marinate. However, I think this would work after an hour or two if the chicken was cut into chunks. Once ready, I removed the chicken and pineapple from the marinade and grilled it.

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Putting rings of raw onion underneath the chicken not only added flavor, but also protected the meat from being burned or sticking to the metal. I grilled these breasts with tin foil covering the pan at about 250-300 degrees F until cooked through.

My family likes to use aluminum pans on the grill nowadays — we used to cook either straight on the grill or with a sheet of tin foil, but we’ve found that it’s so much cleaner to just have a pan (besides, we have wood-plastic composite decking, and getting grease stains out of that is nigh impossible). The problem with pans is that excess fat doesn’t drip off — we’ve solved this issue by choosing lean meats like chicken breast. By containing all the liquids, this allows for the meat to remain moist, which is important for white meats. What’s also nice is that the pans can be soaked in soapy water and the stuck on foods come off pretty easily — which means that the pans can be reused.

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The only way to explain this is that the meat itself was creamy. It was juicy throughout, but had something of a layer of pineappley-chicken all over. The pineapple cooked thoroughly, with some of the smaller pieces incorporating into the almost-sticky oniony chicken sauce — if the pineapple were pureed, it would definitely be a thicker sauce. This is far more a base inspiration for how to prepare a simple marinade than anything else, but there are quite a few flavors that can be added  to make this even better — perhaps ginger, coconut, anise, or cranberry? The chicken can be sliced and added to a salad with mango or papaya, or served alongside rice and a coconut-based vegetable curry. The chicken could also be cut up and skewered with bell peppers and onions as American-style kebabs for an easy outdoor party entree.

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Inspiration: Coconut Cream Summer Fruit Popsicles

This last week has been hot. Mid 80’s to low 90’s may not sound hot to some of you, but for me, it’s migraine-inducing. I have survived -40° in Alaska, and I would rather have that. To be honest, though, the big problem here was that it was humid. Add to that a broken air conditioner and a power outage due to an underground wire being disrupted on the day I was going to photograph this post’s main content and you have a pretty unhappy blogger.

I was planning out this recipe for a long time, since I was anticipating a hot summer. I’m not much for frozen sweets, but spring and summer fruits are my culinary weakness. I’m lucky to live on the western side of the US (despite this odd weather and all these fires), because the coastal states have some of the best fruits — Cherries from Washington, watermelons from Oregon, and everything else from California. ….None of them can touch Idaho’s potatoes or apricots, but that’s another story. (side note: Idaho is part of the Pacific Northwest due to its seaport, Lewiston. No one can tell me otherwise.) Add to this tropical-region fruits, and everything gets better.

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Pineapple is ok canned, but I like it fresh.

I’ve looked around at various popsicle recipes online and found that most of them follow the same general pattern: mix pureed fruit with a liquid and sweetener, then freeze. The majority of these looked far too sweet for me, so I played around and made my own style of popsicle:

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A Gift for the Old Man

Sunday was Father’s day — which in my family is usually Give-Dad-Socks-and-Underwear Day. Gifts for my father are roughly divided into two categories: necessities and expensive junk. Lately, the expensive junk that the Man wants is way too expensive and the socks and underwear have been piling up. There really wasn’t anything else in the stores that that I knew the Old Man would want, so I decided to make something that I knew he would both like and use.

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The Old Man has been using a walker for a while now and has been pretty frustrated about not being able to carry things with him around the house. This Father’s Day, I wanted to make him something so that he could be a bit more comfortable using his walker. There are a few walker tote designs floating around, and the best ones I have found are all free (woo!). I settled on the Walker Tote Bag design from JimmieWriter because of the super-easy instructions as well as the ease of use that the bag would have. Since my old man isn’t that good at tying bows or buttoning buttons, I wanted something that he could easily put on or take off his walker by himself. A lot of guys might not like something like this as a gift, but I was about 97.8% sure my father would see its utility (and like the camo).

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I made the tote exactly like Jimmiewriter explained in the video walkthrough, but I think that I would add a few more lines of stitches to reinforce the pockets if I ever did it again. Making this was incredibly easy, though — probably the hardest part was putting the velcro on. 

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The other nice thing about this tutorial was how easy it was to use the finished product for furushiki gift wrap:Image

This wrapped two paperback novels very thoroughly. ….To be honest, the Man didn’t really know what the tote was at first. Once we showed him, though, he was pretty happy with it. While it’s probably not the most professional of accessories to take out in public, it works really well for him to carry his phone and books around the house.

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I <3 Loving Day

Here’s one not-so-good thing about Eastern Washington: It doesn’t have an organized Loving Day event. Loving Day celebrates the Loving vs. Virginia case of 1967 — that is, the landmark case that outlawed anti-miscegenation.

Loving Day is June 12th, but is still a grassroots movement that has not been recognized nationally (unlike Red Rose Day, which is also today and may have been imported to the US from Australia).

The closest event for Loving Day just happened in Seattle… Instead of that, I made something to share with my Loving-style family:

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I have been wanting to make a bunting ever since I was about 4 years old — it was so easy to make that I’m not sure why I waited so long to do it. I more or less looked at a lot of tutorials and used what I had on hand, but the closest tutorial to my method is from Glorious Treats.

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The fabric I used had a lot of give, so the measurements weren’t exactly perfect. I remeasured and corrected as I sewed and turned, and it more or less worked out.

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To be honest, the cutting was the hardest part. Everything got easier after the flags, since I used double-fold bias tape and iron-on transfers.

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The nice thing about this bunting is that the other side is plain, so it can easily be used any other day of the year. I’ve put it up right in the entrance of my house (not pictured because it needs to be painted), and it gives a summery, shabby-marine look perfect for June.

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