Last Friday I  mentioned I was going to show you the nice drawstring purse my mom made me, so here it is!

Handmade drawstring purse made of kimono fabric

My mom loves to sew and makes a LOT of bags and purses, from tiny cell phone sizes to large grocery totes. She uses all kinds of fabric patterns and combines them to make bold and beautiful creations to sell and sometimes give away to friends and family. She told me this particular fabric came from the wedding kimono of her friend, Shigeko, who gave away pieces of the beautiful, silky material to her friends. I have never heard of anyone giving away pieces of their wedding dress, and if you have ever seen a kimono up close, you will truly appreciate the gesture of of being given such a fine piece of cloth!

Can you can see a faint image of the “tsuru” (Japanese crane)with its wing outstretched?

Handmade gifts really are the best, and sometimes there’s just no right way to express the feelings of gratitude, love,  surprise, and even humility except with a genuine, heartfelt “thank you.” :)

I have a few handmade items to share, though they’re not gifts, but rather plates of food! Yes, it is time again for this week’s episode of…


Thank you to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for continuing to support us food-lovin’ bloggers with a forum to discuss our favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) meals, snacks, and adventures in cookery. Our theme this month is “sensible snacking,” and although I have a fridge full of healthy fruits and veggies, they tend to be part of my main meal rather than as a snack. The “sensible snacks” I have are chocolate bars filled with peanuts, hazelnuts, or rice crispies, so to their credit (and mine,) they could be considered sensible snacks because: 1) I eat them in moderation, and 2) more nuts and rice crispies means less sugar from the chocolate! This may be stretching the idea of sensible snacking to its limits, but I’m just working with what I’ve got…which happens to be chocolate! :)

Aside from I did some experiments with my flavor of the week, curry, and came up with a nice side dish for an easy weeknight meal. But before we talk about that, let’s go over the other two important meals of the day!

I mentioned in last week’s WIAW post that I had a crazy sweet tooth, and thankfully it is gone, or at least shrank to normal size. Breakfast was a typical peanut butter and raspberry toast with coffee. No extra toppings like Nutella or coconut whipped cream topping today!

The extra peanut butter I slathered on went well with these apple slices.

Lunch was an overflowing rainbow salad (those are avocados peeking over the side!) some Tostitos scoops and Diet Peach Snapple:

King Friday kept me company during lunch

In-between snacking were a few of these hazlenut chocolate squares:

Look at those hazelnuts…TONS of them!

My original plans for dinner got brushed aside after reading Justa’s Fancy-Schmancy Grand Slam Bacon post! Bacon is quite the charmer, so instead of chicken katsu curry rice (which I will try to make for Friday’s post) I made my own original BLATMATCHes! Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato, Mushroom, Apple, Turkey and CHeese sandwichES!)

BLATMATCHes with seasoned curry fries and corn

As you can see, I used four dinner rolls to try and contain all the goodness this BLATMATCH had to offer. And to go with it, some fresh corn on the cob and a good pile of seasoned curry fries (note: this is my husband’s dinner, mine was half a sandwich surrounded by lettuce & tomato.) The potatoes I used were small round ones, the kind in the salted potatoes bag, and they were starting to get wrinkly. I’ve heard they make better fries when they get a little wrinkly, but I have not yet perfected my home fries recipe so cannot say for sure. I’ve also added some brown rice flour to help carry the flavor better, and I was also hoping it would help with the crisping of the fries, but it didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the crispiness. Other than that, the taste was awesome, especially with the cayenne pepper. Give this curry fry recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Seasoned Curry Fries, serves 2
Watch the time, cooking it too long will char the spices and make your fries bitter-tasting…and burnt.

1 pound potatoes, cut into batons & laid on paper towels to absorb excess moisture
2 teaspoons curry seasoning of your choice
2 teaspoons brown rice flour (optional)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine curry seasoning, brown rice flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Add potatoes and toss with a large spoon. Drizzle olive oil and  toss to evenly coat. Pour fries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat and spread out into a single layer. Bake for 12 minutes, stir fries so they can brown on the other side and return to oven, baking for another 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy with BLATMATCHes.

What’s your favorite kind of dinner sandwich? Do you have a signature dish or do you look in the fridge and grab whatever’s there? (that’s how the BLATMATCHes were born!)

Enjoy your Wednesday, eat well!

My mechanic’s coffee break

One hot, sunny morning, my husband was involved in one of his favorite pastimes: working on the car. He was midway through replacing something important under the hood (I don’t know what it is, but it sure was greasy!) when he decided to take a break, cooling off with a huge glass of iced water followed by a demitasse of espresso. It may seem weird to choose a steaming hot coffee over an iced cold soft drink, but coffee (or espresso, in this case) is just one of those simple pleasures my husband and I enjoy, regardless of how crazy hot it is.

Speaking of hot, did you know the coffee plant was first discovered in Ethiopia? It was the coffee berry–not the bean–that was first consumed for its stimulating effects. Experiments with this “superfood” eventually took place, and people discovered the roasted seed (or bean, as we call it) created a bitter yet stimulating beverage that aided Arab Muslims to stay alert during late-night prayers (perhaps this is the origin of our late-night college cram sessions!) As word of this miracle drink spread, people began to tame the bitter brew, and the drink evolved into what we know and love today in the form of cappuccinos, iced mochas,  sweet Turkish coffees and cans of coffee energy drinks, like the short-lived “Cocoa-Cola Blak” (it definitely tasted like coffee and coke!)

There’s a lot of great dessert recipes that use the wonderful flavor of coffee (my favorite is coffee ice cream) but what about incorporating coffee into a main course?  Meats can certainly benefit from the rich, strong, earthy qualities of the roasted coffee bean, but can vegetarian dishes be just as delicious? There are ways of making it work, and here are some suggestions to use it as a seasoning, hopefully without keeping you up all night:

Coffee marinade: In a ziploc bag, combine a cup of strong coffee with a crushed garlic clove, a teaspoon each of fresh sage, rosemary, and salt with a dash of black pepper. Marinate beef, pork or chicken overnight and cook as desired.

Spiced Coffee Rub: Mix 1 tablespoon instant coffee, 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Rub on meats and refrigerate overnight before cooking as desired. Another version of this recipe can be found here.

Coffee Jam: Thinly slice a round onion and sautee in oil over medium heat until it begins to carmelize, about 7-10 minutes. Add a fat pinch of Kosher salt, fresh thyme, and 1/2 cup strong coffee and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Serve with roasted meats and veggies.

Below is an easy potato side dish I made using just a few spices and it tastes like the potatoes my mom cooks when she makes a pork roast. The potatoes are nicely browned and the mushrooms add a substantial amount of meatiness, without the meat! My favorite part is how the red wine and spices create a rich and flavorful reduction you get in every bite. Serve this up with some steamed kale or green beans and you have a delicious, hearty vegetarian meal for you and your favorite espresso-loving mechanic.

Coffee Pot Roast Potatoes

Coffee Pot Roast Potatoes (serves 2)
You can also make this dish with extra firm tofu instead of potatoes, just reduce the cooking time

Ingredients:

1 pound small round potatoes, quartered (1 to 1 1/2″ chunks)
4 large mushrooms, quartered (cut them to the same size as potato quarters)
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso (or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules)
1/4 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, sage, or rosemary)
dash of cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes with salt, instant espresso or coffee, cumin seeds, and cayenne. Toss with a fork to coat potatoes evenly. Drizzle in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add garlic, stir to coat.

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil, add potatoes and cook until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Slowly add half of wine, cooking until it begins to reduce and thicken. Cover potatoes and cook for five minutes, stirring a couple times. Uncover & cook potatoes for another 3-5 minutes, stirring so all pieces can brown nicely. Add mushrooms and remaining wine, cooking uncovered until liquid begins to thicken. Stir, cover and cook until potatoes are fork-tender and mushrooms are cooked through.

Caramelized potatoes are crisp and tender