Fall Challenge – One sheet, 10 cards!

August 16, 2009

This entry was moved to my new Crafting blog on Blogger. Find it here – http://kajikit.blogspot.com/2009/08/fall-challenge-one-sheet-ten-cards.html

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Friday Feasting – Key Lime Pie

August 15, 2009

(I know I’m actually posting this on Saturday, but it takes time to get used to all the steps involved in creating a blog entry! I’m still trying to figure this thing out…)

We went out to lunch the other day and indulged in a piece of ‘key lime’ pie for dessert. It’s usually one of my favourite things to have, but this piece was disappointingly fake and ‘creamy’ – it tasted like there was more cool-whip and air in the recipe than lime. I could do better than that in my own kitchen, and so can you. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own, even if you can’t get Key Limes. Regular limes are cheap and easily available (they were eight for a dollar at our Farmers market this week!), and the end result tastes pretty much the same. One of the nice things about a Key Lime pie is how very simple it is to make. If you don’t have limes, you can use exactly the same recipe with lemons… and if you add some cream cheese you get a basic cheesecake! Either way, it’s delicious.

Firstly, assemble your ingredients. As you can see there aren’t a lot of fancy things needed – limes, condensed milk, a packet of biscuits/cookies/graham crackers, some eggs, and some butter is all it takes. Plus you need a big bowl, a fine grater or a zester (if you’ve got a microplane all the better, but I’m not so lucky!) and a baking dish.You don’t even need a food processor…

key lime pie

You may have seen Key Lime pie with a graham cracker crust… we don’t have graham crackers in Australia, so the traditional go-to for crumb crusts is a Marie biscuit. They’re readily available, easy to crumb, and they have a distinctively mild flavour that makes a nice neutral crust. Plus they’re cheap – look in the Mexican aisle of your grocers, or in the ‘imported’ section of the store and they’re only about 80c a pack. Open your pack of biscuits and put them into a big ziplock bag. Then whack the heck out of them with a rolling pin. It won’t take long to reduce them to rubble, and you don’t have a dirty food processer to wash.

key lime pie

I like one-bowl cookery… so while you can mess around with six different dishes, I’m not going to unless it’s really necessary. When you’re making a crumbcrust you need three things – crumbs, melted butter, and a little sugar to taste. It doesn’t really make any difference which order you put them into the bowl, so I melt the stick of butter BEFORE I do anything else and then dump the rest of the ingredients on top of it. It all comes out the same in the end!

key lime pie

Mix everything together until it looks like damp sand. If you pick up a little handful and squish them they should stick together for a moment. If they don’t, add a little more butter.

key lime pie

Grease a baking, pie or cheesecake pan well. This helps the crumbs to stick to the sides of the container while they’re dry, and it will help them to release later. Tip your crumbs into the dish and press them down into a crust with the palm of your hand, and then bake it at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. It doesn’t really need to cook, but the heat helps to set the crust into one piece.

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While the crust is baking, you can assemble the rest of the ingredients and make the filling. The first and most important ingredient is the limes, and the first thing you need to do is to grate your zest (that’s just a fancy way of saying the skin…) Pick the two or three limes with the nicest looking outside and rinse them off. If you’re using actual key limes you’ll need to use at least twice as many – they’re much smaller and have less surface area! Grab your grater or your zester and shred the lime zest into your big mixing bowl. Try not to get too much of the white bits into the bowl – the white is where the bitter taste is. If you have a microplane all the better, but if not the finest side of a regular box grater or a small hand-held grater will work just fine.

key lime pie

When you’ve finished zesting, cut the now-naked limes in half and sqeeze them on your juicer, and add as many more as you need. I’m making a big tart to feed a crowd, so I used a cup and a half of lime juice, but for say an 8-inch pie dish you’d only need 1/2 cup. But honestly, it’s one of those things where the more you put in the better. I’ve always used at least twice as much juice as the recipe suggests because it makes for a much more intense flavour.

key lime pie

Set your lime juice aside for a minute. You don’t need it until the crumb crust is out of the oven but it pays to be prepared. Open your condensed milk. A small pie will only need one can, but again I’m making a double-batch so I used two. Note the colour of the cans – one of the cans was freshly purchased and the other has been sitting in my pantry cupboard for just over a year. This does not mean that it’s gone bad! Condensed milk is made by cooking milk, and if you store if for a long period it will gradually get darker, thicker and more caramelized-looking… but it’s still perfectly good unless there’s any visible sign of damage to the can. Never use a bulging, leaking, or very rusted tin for ANYTHING. Your life is worth more than a few dollars in canned goods.

key lime pie

Got your condensed milk open now? Scrape it into the mixing bowl on top of the lime zest and whisk it in. The next thing you need are the eggs. You only need to use the yolks for this recipe, so separate the eggs into a small bowl using whatever method you prefer and put the whites aside. As you can see, I broke a couple of yolks and got a little bit mixed in with the whites, so I won’t be making meringues any time soon! But for the purposes of making the pie it really doesn’t matter… 6 eggs for this big pie, 3 for a little one.

key lime pie

Whisk the eggs into the condensed milk and make sure there aren’t any little blobby bits left in it. Nobody wants little blobby lumps in their pie if they can help it! The more you whisk the mixture at this stage the lighter and fluffier it will be.

whisking the mix

Is your crumb crust out of the oven yet? If not, stop right here and wait. When the oven timer goes off and you take the crust out, set it down on top of the stove or on a cooling rack and do the last step of the recipe. You’re in the home stretch now! Pour the lime juice into your condensed milk mixture and start whisking. The acid in the lime juice will react with the condensed milk and start to thicken it up right away. It looks a little strange as you first start to mix, so just keep whisking. In a minute or two you should have a nice smooth mix.

key lime pie

Pour the mix into the crumb crust and put it back into the oven for about 30 minutes. Take it out the oven and cool it on a rack, then put it into the fridge for a few hours to chill. I can’t show you what it looks like on a plate because I’m taking the pie to church tomorrow, but take my word for it that it tastes great!

key lime pie

Quick layered Christmas Card with wrapping paper

August 13, 2009

This entry is brought to you as part of the Cards for Heroes mini-bloghop – http://cardsforheroes.org/bloghop

Bloghop logo

One of the things I like best about card-making is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a pretty card. You can do a lot with recycled materials – you don’t need to toss out your old birthday and christmas cards – it’s easy to make them into something new and fresh. Another great recycled material to use is wrapping paper. If you keep your eyes open after Christmas, you  can get a whole roll of the stuff with a great repeating pattern on it for just a few dollars! So what do you do with it? You can cut it, fold it, layer it, paste it, rearrange it, and the repeating patterns on the paper make it very easy to make 3-dimensional layered cards… its only disadvantage is that it is NOT acid-free, so your masterpiece is not going to last forever. So it doesn’t work well in a scrapbook, but it’s great for making quick and easy greeting cards.

Today’s card uses a basic christmas tree design. The original price was $2 for four sheets of paper, but I got it for 50c in February.  That’s a lot of cards!

Wrapping paper for layered card

Wrapping paper for layered card

The medallion design on this paper has several basic layers in it that are easy to cut out. The base layer is the holly outline… the second is the yellow outline on the medallion, and the last is the Christmas tree itself. Cut roughly around the number of medallions you need for your card, and then trim them up with nail scissors. The curving blade makes it easier to get around the fiddly curves in the design, and the small blade lets you see what you’re doing. When you’ve finished cutting out the medallions, glue the largest layer onto your cardstock.

Layered christmas card

Now take a sheet of thin foam popdots (the larger ones will be too thick when you have more than one layer of foam in the card.) One of the advantages of doing a card like this is that you can use up your foam scraps… make a sort of foamy mosaic on the back of your layer, then peel off the cover sheet and stick it down. Then repeat with your second layer, and any other layers in your design.

Foamy layer card

When you have your layers stuck down, you can finish the card however you like. My favourite method is to ink up the edges. Just turn the card over and drag the edges across the stamp pad until they’re as inked up as you want them to be.

Inking up the layered card

I finished my card with a holiday greeting and a couple of star brads. And there  you have it. One layered card with about five minutes work…

Finished layer card

And now you’ve seen my card idea, I hope you’ll enjoy going on to view the rest of the blogs on the Hop… I hope you get lots of great ideas to make cards for yourself and for Cards for Heroes. I just love the thought that a few minutes of my time and effort can bring cheer to somebody else’s life… I get to have fun making stuff, and then it gets used to bless others! If you want to make Christmas cards for CFH, just remember that they need to be in the mail by November 1st. They have a long way to travel to get to the Middle East and back before Christmas! Make a few, make a lot, make however many you’ve got time for – every card makes a difference to someone.

And the next blog in the hop is – Rachel’s blog.

Trying to figure this thing out!

August 13, 2009

I thought it said you could change the title of your blog once it was made… I can’t find an option to do that anywhere! And I can’t figure out how to use the darned thing except as a text-editor. Argh! This is a lot more complicated than it looks!!!!!!!! I take my hat off to anyone who has been able to figure it out and make it do what THEY want it to do without an advanced degree of some sort!

Let’s see if I can manage to get a photo in here at least… I just grabbed my camera and went in search of the cats. Here are the three girls doing what they do best. Sleeping! (or sitting anyway…) The least I can do is share come cat photos with you!

scouty

Scouty was sitting on the edge of our bed… you can probably tell that she’s a big girl – she’s built like a barrel, and she weighs 16lbs. She’s also a big scaredy-cat, so if you come to our apartment you’re not at all likely to get to see her – as soon as she hears you come to the door, she’s under the bed!

silly

Silver was curled up in a box in the corner of the livingroom… they used to have a nice basket under the coffee table but did they ever deign to sleep in it? Of course not! I took the box away and substituted a cardboard box filled with crinkly paper… and all of a sudden it’s a favourite hiding place! Silly is more lightly built than her sister and she has pointy ears and nose where Scoutys are rounded off which makes her look a lot more delicate but she’s just as heavy… and even more lazy! The dark mark on her face is from a blocked tear duct. It doesn’t bother her, but she’s had a runny eye ever since she was a kitten. I just have to wipe her face for her when it gets too messy (the wiping bothers her more than the drips!) But she’s a very docile girl and she’ll let you do almost anything you want to her, especially if there’s food in it.

tessie

Lastly, Tessie was curled up in one of HER favourite sleeping places… she loves to go into our wardrobe and to sleep on top of John’s work pants. I call her ‘little black cat trying to get squished’ because she blends right into the background! She also has a very dangerous habit of going to sleep on the black computer chairs in a dark room… when you consider that I’m 200lbs and John is 400 it gives whole new meaning to the words ‘squishy kitty’! She was fast asleep when I started but the flash woke her up so you can see her beautiful golden eyes.

Welcome to my world!

August 13, 2009

I thought I’d give this blogging thing a go… there are three things that occupy a lot of my time and interest, so they’re the subject of my blog.

1) Cats… namely ours! We have three kitties who very much rule the roost around here. Silver and Scout are sisters and they were adopted from the animal shelter right after we got married.That makes them going on for six now. They’re positively sedate, and they spend a lot of time lying in the sun or curled up in a box some place.
Our third feline, Tessie, adopted US. She’s a year or so younger than the other two, and while she has the body of a full-grown adult, she has the brain (and energy) of a kitten. Tessie loves to play, and one of her favourite games is chasey. She will chase anything that moves – balls, the laser pointer, her sisters… Silver will play with her on demand, but Scouty hates her.

Our fourth kitty isn’t actually ours… I am pathologically unable to ignore a cry for help, and Tommy Boy realised that and took advantage of it! I was feeding another kitty at the time (I thought Stripy Thing was a stray but he actually has a perfectly good home in the other building – he just likes to mooch!) and one day Tommy Boy smelled/saw/heard the food and came tearing up the stairs to get some. How could I possibly refuse such bravery? So he got his own bowl and he shows up for breakfast and dinner every day. He’s very much a feral and he doesn’t want to be touched or paid too much attention to, but he knows when it’s time to eat. And I’m happy to help him out… I will NOT turn any creature away from my door hungry if I have the means to help fill their belly.

2) My second interest is cooking. I’m not a gourmet cook… but I love good quality food made with real ingredients. I don’t use a lot of salt or additives in my food and store-bought or factory-made food tends to be disappointing, not worth the money, or plain dreadful. But I’m not a purist, and there are plenty of shortcuts that make my life simpler without spoiling the end product. I’m not ashamed to use a store-bought pizza crust… but it’s going to be topped with fresh vegetables (for me) and pepperoni (for John). I don’t use a lot of formal recipes in my cooking… cooking is mostly a mix of intuition and experience. I helped my mother with the baking from the time I was very young, and I took over cooking the family dinners when I was thirteen, so I’ve got plenty of experience under my belt! I love to look at recipe books and to get new ideas from them, but most of the stuff I actually make comes from my gut. Sometimes it works… and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s just the way life is. I celebrate the successes and pull the rug over the failures and move on. And there are very few nights when we have to turn to pizza! 😛

3) My third interest is crafts. I’ve toyed with scrapbooking (both paper and digital), cross-stitch and various other crafts, but my real love is making things from paper. I did scrapbooking for quite a few years, but it gets to be a very expensive hobby very quickly. After we were married I settled on cards because they’re quick, easy, inexpensive, and useful. I love being able to produce a result fairly quickly and then to give it to someone else and pass on the joy. I make cards for our church and I make cards for the Cards for Heroes project. Cards for Heroes collects handmade greeting cards, collates them into boxes, and ships them off to the troops overseas so they can keep in touch with their families. CFH also collects ‘hero cards’ with notes, letters etc in them so that the heroes can be encouraged as well… it’s got to be mighty tough to be away from your family and loved ones for so long, and they need all the encouragement they can get!

4) I know I said I had three interests… but there are actually four. My last interest, which probably won’t get as much airtime here because it’s very personal and more a subject for my private diary, is church… I’ve been a Christian since I was fifteen, and while I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with the church itself and sometimes I’ve gone for months at a time without setting foot in the church door, my faith is a central part of my life. I don’t believe in sitting here and telling other people what to do or believe. So don’t expect to be lectured at… but I wouldn’t be me without God.

And that’s me in a nutshell… I’ll get some photos in here when I figure out how to do it. I’ve never had a blog before so it’s all new to me! I hope you’ll stick around for the journey…