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I have a new found love for bell peppers. Before, I wouldn’t have considered adding them to anything. Now, I think, “Can this be made more delicious with some bell pepper?” It’s all part of my new Eat Your Vegetables initiative, which is pretty much trying to order as many vegetables as I can from my local CSA and then eat them before they go bad. The best discovery so far has been spinach, but bell peppers are a close second.

This morning I really wanted some brie. I figured I could scramble up some eggs to go with it, and because I’m super fancy I added in some bell pepper and red onion. Putting the brie on top of the eggs was a last minute stroke of genius that resulted in melty cheesy heaven.

I am wary of food that takes more than three words to describe. Banana cream pie? Okay, sure. Strawberry-kiwi lemon meringue? Nah, I don’t think so. It was Mr. Chemist that first convinced me too many adjectives is a bad sign, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

So. Shrimp tacos? Okay, sure. Coconut lime shrimp with kiwi salsa? Maybe too much. The pretty pictures in this recipe for Grilled Coconut Lime Tilapia Tacos with Kiwi Salsa made me ignore the excessive number of ingredients. Into my bookmarks it went, and today I managed to get kiwi, coconut milk, and fresh cilantro into the kitchen at the same time. It wasn’t bad, but the kiwi would’ve been far better on its own. The shrimp weren’t very coconutty either, but the original recipe called for tilapia, so maybe it was my fault for the substitution.

It makes for a colorful picture, though.

Handmade Christmas

Finally, my post of handmade Christmas presents! Inside, you will find links to larger pictures and descriptions, as well as who the lucky recipients were.

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Lacy Plates

Everything I set on these instantly transforms to classy. Shown here are my favorite pancakes, which are made from the Alton Brown recipe.

These were made as a TimeBank trade, so I didn’t pick the pattern or the yarn. The pattern was simple and pleased the recipient, who is modelling them for me in the above photo. The yarn was some rough wool, which reminded me that I always want to work with sumptuous, soft fibers. Since they were a TimeBank trade, I kept track of how long it took me — 18 hours! That seems like a long time for some gloves, even if they are almost full sleeves.

Here is the pattern for Mikado Ribbon Fingerless Gloves on Ravelry.

I am dumbfounded, astounded, amazed, impressed, and nearly speechless. I somehow managed to convince microscopic organisms that they should come live in a little plastic container, where they will occasionally receive food, but will more often be slaughtered in great quantities.

I have created a sourdough starter from nothing but flour and water. I did not think it was possible, especially for someone like me, who has never been able to keep a simple herb garden alive. Despite this past failure with living things, I was drawn in by the simplicity and assurance of success of this tutorial. Just mix up some water and flour, keep mixing in more water and flour periodically, and in under one week you have wild yeast! Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t quite that easy for me, but it succeeded eventually. I reached day 3 of the tutorial and had no bubbles to indicate yeast has taken up residence. I started anew, leaving the first attempt alone, but my second try molded within a couple days and I threw it out. Frustrated, I stalked away from the whole ordeal for a while. My first batch sat there, unmolded, but covered in a liquid layer of hooch. Eventually I took heart, poured off the hooch and took a highly recommended troubleshooting step — addition of more nutritious flour. The tutorial recommends rye, but I didn’t have that. I did have whole wheat berries, which I blended into flour and added to the (presumed lifeless) batch with some water. After less than a day, the yeast began to show bubbly signs of life. I continued feeding with unbleached all-purpose flour, declared myself to be on day 4, and had no problems thereafter.

I have since made two loaves of bread. The first was not adequately kneaded, lacked salt, and came out in an unappetizing lump. The second took half an hour of beginner’s kneading before smoothing out and showing signs of developed gluten, but it rose beautifully in the oven. Gorgeous, deliciously crispy crust with perfectly textured insides. I don’t know how I managed to make this happen, but I feel like a miracle worker.