Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back From a Break! A Few New Items, and a New Kitchen Creation

Whew!  Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I am busier than ever!   Thanksgiving was lovely- we had my cousin and her husband down from Montana, and had a blast with them.  We even did a little Black Friday shopping, which I usually try to avoid like the Plague, but went since my cousin is totally into it.  Apart from the sleep deprivation, it was fun!  I have the shopping almost done, but not quite, and I still haven't wrapped anything.  Got my cards but haven't addressed them yet.  Still have to write the annual holiday letter.  Yikes- too much to do!!

This weekend I finally did carve out some time to get some bookmarks done and a card made for my BFF Kendra, since I need to send her package out tomorrow.  We have an annual tradition of sending each other an ornament for Christmas, and this year I got hers when we were on vacation in Leavenworth, WA over the summer.  I did not think to get a picture of the card before I packaged everything up, but that is ok, because it's really  not one of my better works.  Sorry Kendra!  Anyway, I did some much needed maintenance on my Etsy shop, relisted some items that had sold previously, and listed a few new items as well.  You will remember the map bookmark I posted about awhile back- I made a couple more of those, as well as two other map designs that I did not post previously:

These are from the same bunch of scrapbook paper that Kendra sent me awhile back, and I really like these- they are kind of Old-World looking.  They are actually the same map pattern in different colors, which I had not noticed until today!  I really like them.  I need to get over to  Goodwill and see about finding some atlases that I can use, since this is such a neat concept!

(Side note, does anyone know why Blogger wants to put all these random extra line spaces before and after the photos??  Arrggghh!  So frustrating!!)

A couple more florals that I listed, one to replace one that sold awhile ago, and another that I made awhile back but didn't get around to photographing until now:

 The one with the teal, lime green and blue butterfly delphiniums is similar to one I did before- the difference is that I had used teal handmade paper on the previous one.  On this one, I used regular scrapbook paper of the same color.  Interestingly enough, within about 15 minutes of listing these in my shop, I got an order for that one, plus the pink and green dyed daisy bookmark!  First time THAT has ever happened!  Maybe I will have a bit of a holiday rush after all!

I'm still in on the PBS Swappers paper craft group, but have been too busy lately to participate in any of the challenges.  I have joined a couple of the swaps though.  Most recently, we did a winter bookmark swap, and of course I participated in that one!  I did not get a picture before I mailed them off, but this is the picture that our lovely hostess, Christy, posted on the PBS Swappers site:

That one was fun to make!  I used two different Martha Stewart snowflake punches plus another smaller snowflake punch and layered them in purple, white and silver papers.  The outer frame is a deep purple, and the background is actually a blue vellum over white card stock, so it gives it a nice icy-looking finish.  I have joined two swaps that will be taking place in the near future- one is a Hello/Hi card, and the next is a Thank You card.  I already have a couple of ideas for the Hello card, and will be working on that one first, since the deadline for it is the end of the month.  The Thank You card doesn't need to be done until next month, so first things first!

Finally I have a new Kitchen Creation to share.  This was a new experiment, and while I think it can use some tweaks for next time, it turned out pretty tasty.  I was inspired by a package of pork stew meat that I ran across in the grocery store, which I don't think I've ever seen before.  But maybe I just haven't been looking for it. In any case, since we have been all turkeyed-out for the last week after Thanksgiving, I was browsing the pork section in the meat department and had to get it when I spotted it.  I recalled a recipe that I had made many years ago that I loved at the time, and then of course lost the recipe, but that is what inspired this dish.  The lost recipe was for a pork roast in the slow cooker, with potatoes, green cabbage and onions, seasoned with fennel seeds and a little vinegar.  I thought that perhaps I could take that same idea and make a stew with those ingredients.  I did not have any cabbage or fennel seeds- but, hey!  I had some brussels sprouts and a fennel bulb, so why not use those?  Now, I know that not everyone likes brussels sprouts, but I happen to love them.  If you don't like them, you can leave them out.  It's ok, I won't be offended.  I was flying solo without a recipe here, and like I said, there are some things I would do differently next time, so the recipe here is what I would recommend including those changes.

Pork Stew with Potatoes, Fennel, and Brussels Sprouts


(Some items are not pictured.  That's because I figured out a few things along the way, after I took the picture.)

1 lb. pork stew meat, trimmed and diced into 1-inch cubes
2 slices of bacon, diced
1/4 cup flour
Potatoes- about 4 (I used Yukon Gold), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 leek, sliced lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly, then sliced thinly crosswise
About 3 cups brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, and quartered lengthwise
1/2 of a fennel bulb, core removed, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or more, to taste)
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
salt/pepper to taste


1. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy.  Remove bacon and set aside, reserving fat in pan.

2, Place flour in a large resealable bag and add some salt and pepper.  Add pork cubes and toss to coat well with flour mixture.   Remove pork from flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Heat reserved bacon drippings in skillet and add pork.  Brown well on all sides.
3. Place potato slices on bottom of slow cooker.  I used my 6-quart cooker.  Add onions, leeks, garlic, and fennel.  Add pork.  Combine chicken broth and vinegar and pour over the top.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
 4. Lower heat to Low and add brussels sprouts to the top.  Replace lid and continue to cook on low, about 4 hours, or until brussels sprouts and potatoes are tender.

5. Stir to incorporate ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.  If necessary, add a bit more vinegar.  Serve topped with reserved cooked bacon.

My notes:  I really liked this.  It's really tasty with a little bit of tang from the vinegar, but it's not overwhelming.  The onions add a little bit of sweetness, the fennel gives it an earthy undertone, and the pork is falling-apart tender.  The vinegar gives the brussels sprouts a nice bright flavor, and the smokey, salty bacon brings it all together.  This is admittedly not the most *attractive* dish I've ever cooked, but it was tasty, filling, and warm, and just perfect for a cold late fall night.
Hope you enjoyed this Kitchen Creation!  I love to cook and love sharing recipes, so if you try one of the recipes I post here, I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to leave me a comment and ask any questions you might have or tell me how you liked it!

1 comment:

  1. Your bookmarks just get prettier and prettier. I really like the green and purple flower ones and the map ones are neat too. I saw at Michaels they had some paper that might wasn't with the main section of paper but in a corner with the travel scrapbooking stickers.