Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo Op

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of beauty there is and how easy it is to capture a beautiful photo.  This year my mom, sister, and family friend and I went on our second annual girls' camping and kayaking weekend.  We stayed at a fish and wildlife area in south-western Indiana.  Our campsite was perfect, with access to the reservoir right from the site.  We had a blast kayaking and chatting.  We also made some great memories in the sweltering heat, fears of being attacked by the rather large-sounding racoon in the middle of the night, and monsoon-like nighttime rainstorm that threatened to collapse our tent.  Fortunately one of the girls was smart enough to bring a coffee maker so that we could function after such an eventful night!   We also visited nearby Vincennes, IN and saw the historical sites there and did some shopping.  It was all very interesting and provided a great retreat.  As much as I love getting away with my family, it was awesome to get away without them too :)  I didn't do any crafting on this little weekend away, but I got some of my very favorite photos I've ever taken!  I hope you enjoy them too :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Little Lady

I got the chance to make one of my favorite patterns again, this time with a ladybug theme.  The sweater and ladybug rattle are made in a soft washable yarn.   I had Steph from TwoKazoos make the ladybug.  She does such a great job and I always end up with just what I'm looking for.  The little plush rattle was made to match the applique exactly, which I just get such a kick out of! 

If you were thinking of buying handmade this Christmas its not to early to place an order.  Since handmade items take time and care to produce, put your order in early to guarantee we can get it to you in time for the holidays!  If you're interested in a sweater set or any other Knits and Knots item you can visit the Custom Order and Pricing pages for more info.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Retreat and Refresh

My family and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a friend's lake house this weekend, and we had the most wonderfully relaxing time!  We spent all day on the lake exploring all different modes of water transportation and soaked up the sun and good conversation with friends.  I also was able to score some good knitting time and worked up a little sweater for my most recent order.  I will be attaching the little ladybug below it as soon as it arrives from Two Kazoos.  Add a few buttons, whip up a matching rattle and the set will be complete!  I love it when vacation makes my work that much more fun :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Recipe and Review!

Its finally here - the review of my Taylor & Ng 5 Piece 12" Preseasoned Flat Bottom Wok Set provided by CSN stores and my favorite Korean Recipe, Bi Bim Bap!

I'll start off with a quick review of the product and my experience with CSN stores (to learn about how I was chosen to do a review you can go here)  The delivery of my wok was as expected for an online order - I think it took about 5 days from the order going through to arrival at my door.  The wok came unassembled, which was surprising to me, but was simple to put together.  Basically I had to screw on the handle to both the wok and the lid.  The set consists of the wok, lid, wooden cooking chopsticks, a wooden spatula, and a metal spatula.  The wok is very sturdy, and looks to me as though it will last a long time.  The lid is kind of thin, but seems to be strong enough - I haven't had a need to use it yet.  The cooking utensils that came with the set are all great and I can see using them for many cooking applications.  The chopsticks may be my new favorite cooking utensil actually!  They are long and do a great job of moving food around when stir-frying.  The only issue I had with the set at all is that although it is called "pre-seasoned" you can't just jump into using the wok.  The set comes with a manual that takes you through the simple steps of removing a protective coating that has been placed on the wok.  While it is easy, you can't just use it right out of the box.  It is also not dishwasher safe, but is VERY easy to clean by hand, which I love!  Overall, the set is great, and I can see it being my number one cooking pan for a long time because of its size and convenience.

And now on to the Bi Bim Bap

Bi Bim Bap is a traditional Korean dish, which literally means "mixed rice" or "mixing rice" depending on who you ask.   The basic idea is that you stir-fry different types of vegetables and a meat and put it over rice.  Then add a little gochujang (hot pepper paste), mix it up, and you have a delicious meal!  According to Wikpedia, traditionally, Bi Bim Bap would include julienned  cucumber, zucchini, daikon, mushrooms, bellflower root, and gim (dried seaweed), as well as spinach, soybean sprouts, and bracken fern stems, tofu (either plain or sautéed), and/or a leaf of lettuce, plus a fried egg on top.  The following recipe is an Americanized version of Bi Bim Bap based on the vegetables and items we typically have in our kitchen.  The recipe I'm showing is loosely based on this recipe.  Keep in mind, you can use pretty much any vegetables you have on hand in your kitchen.  In the past i've used spinach, cabbage, green beans, sugar snap peas, pretty much whatever needs to be used up in the vegetable bin!  Its a GREAT way to use up leftover veggies :)  My kids don't do spicy, so we always skip the gochujang, but my husband is going to love our Korean Air flight when we go to get our son because they serve and awesome bi bim bap that comes with all the spicy gochujang you could want!

1 lb lean ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breast or beef cut in strips
2 cups carrots, julienned* (see end for a little picture tutorial on this!)
2 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (15 1/4 ounce) can corn kernels, drained or 1.5 cups frozen corn kernals
4 eggs, scrabled
1/2 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 cup garlic, chopped
2 tbsp chives, chopped
oil, for frying (sesame is the traditional, but I usually use Canola)
salt and pepper
1.5-2 cups white rice (cook according to package directions)

1)  In a small bowl, combine meat, soy sauce, both sugars, and 1/2 of the garlic (my photo is missing the garlic, oops!).  Mix together thoroughly to marinate.

2)  Scramble the eggs and cook into small pancakes.  Slice into strips.  (see video below).  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

3)  Heat small amount of oil in wok, add canned or frozen corn and a dash of salt.  Cook until the corn starts to brown a little.  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

4)  Heat small amount of oil in wok, add julienned carrots, add 1 tsp of sugar and stirfry until soft.  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

5) Heat small amount of oil in wok, add asparagus and chives, and season with salt and pepper.  Stirfry until crisp-tender (and enjoy the AMAZING SMELL!)  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

6)  Heat small amount of oil in wok, add broccoli, cauliflower and the rest of the garlic, and season with salt and pepper.  Stirfry until crisp-tender.  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

7)  Add a small amount of oil to wok, add meat and marinade and heat until fully cooked.  Place into bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Either place all of the bowls out on the table, letting your family pick and choose what they want, or serve each person a bowl filled with rice and topped with a little each of the stir-fried dishes.  Mix it up and enjoy the very yummiest stir-fry you've ever had!

*how to quickly julienne carrots
1) cut a carrot at a steep angle creating thin, oval slices of carrot

2) push the slices into a neat row

3) cut down the row of slices to make little matchsticks (juliennes) of carrot.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Ok, so my grand plans of getting a review of my new wok and a tutorial on bi bim bap on here have been hijacked!  I had some family issues come up last week, and although I've had a chance to use my wok it has only been twice and rushed both times.  I will be home all weekend this weekend and hope to get a tutorial and review posted at the end of that time :) 

I just wanted to take a moment and share a little about how this review came about.  **NOTE:  CSN stores did NOT ask me to share this, I felt I should because I want to be open with anyone who might read this blog!  I got contacted by CSN stores to see if I wanted to do a review or giveaway on my site.  I'm guessing they found my blog by looking at google hits or something as they don't specialize in craft items.  Anyway, the first thing I did is ask about their corporate responsibility (how do they spend their money, where do they get their items, are any of their products manufactured in illegal ways - forced labor, child labor and the like).  I determined that I WOULD NOT support or promote an online store that I couldn't be confident lived up to the standards that I require when I make my own purchases.  The person from CSN stores who had contacted me was kind enough to share some links about their corporate philosophy and their philanthropic giving.   It seems, from what I could tell from the links, that CSN stores is a company based in the northeast US that has gone from a small company to a rather extensive one quickly, but that the company still sees themselves as a local company with a focus on serving their local and global community.  They also have an A+ rating by the BBB, which was encouraging to me!  I also googled CSN store's corporate responsibility and was not able to find any mention of them engaging in questionable practices in regard to their purchasing or sourcing of their wares.  After all of that I felt confident I could provide a review on my site for them and be confident of what I was promoting!  This blog is not going to become another spot that you are attacked by advertising, but I actually thought it was cool to have the opportunity to support a US based company with a good corporate philosophy.  So, if you're interested, look out for a review of my new wok and my favorite recipe sometime next week.  Then we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming (once my life slows down a bit - I thought summer was supposed to be relaxing!)