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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the BIG BOX of Masculine Beauty...

So this is one of the things I made from the Bearded Dude stamp I made the other day...  I used him to make a patterned fabric to line a basket with - making a little personalized bathroom caddy.

Do you see where I may be going with this?

Anyways, I took a plastic bin from Dollarama and measured the sides and bottom to make a cover from it.  I added a seam adjustment and about 3 inches to the sides for overhang, and cut white cotton fabric from my stash, and some scrap muslin to make the labels.

I used Pilot Frixion pens to mark my cutting lines, then my seam lines, etc, and they worked great - they disappeared with ironing.  After cutting out all the pieces, and I made this so it is finished on all sides, I placed the cut pieces and stamped the Bearded Dude on the right sides, using Ranger Archival Ink in Watering Can - I love the soft warm gray.  I did it so that the side that we will see will have the Bearded Dude facing right side up.  

Then I sewed the sides onto the two bottoms.   I sewed up the 4 corners, partway, so that they would sit inside the basket.  I then set the two pieces right side out, and sat them in each other, before turning under the raw edges.

I added some fusible interfacing in the corners to support the eyelets I wanted to use.  Before I pinned and sewed the overhanging flaps together, I stamped the labels using Archival inks, and sewed them on the short flats - so there is one on either of the short ends.  Again, I used the Frixion pens to draw on guidelines for stamping, and used my Stampamajig to align the letters better.  When I ironed the raw edges under and some interfacing on to give it some body, the pen disappeared.

I then sewed the edges of the flaps, trapping the turned under raw edges in between the two layers.  It does sit nicely in the basket - but it would have sat more nicely if I added the slight slant to the basket walls in consideration.   Afterwards, I used my Cropadile to punch 3/16"  holes in the corners of each overhang flap.  To support the edges more, I sewed around the holes.  Then I used the Cropadile to set silver eyelets in each corner and tied the corner on with some ecru twill tape.

It makes for a cute little bathroom caddy - see where I am going with this Secret Santa gift?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

duck, duck.... DUCK....

No goose tonight folks.  DH and I dropped by my parents the other night so I could give mom her flu shot, and on the way home, stopped by a local Asian market.  I love Asian markets - there are so many foods there that are reminiscent of my childhood, and that I love, but can't always find at regular markets.  It's also the same one where I saw the grape tomatoes on the cakes - and when I looked that night, there were not toms on the cakes.

Anyways, I wanted to pick up sushi for dinner, but could not resist a little runaround to see what else I could get.  What did that net us?  They had Muscovy duck!!!!  For a not terrible price either (read - not the absolutely top end terrible price that I saw them for at the various butchers at St. Lawrence Market).  I had to get one, as I had seen some of my favourite chefs recommend it on their shows (Ming Tsai - I love you!).  DH was gone this weekend and I thought I could make this for Sunday as a special dinner for him, especially as I had not made duck in a long time.

Anyways, Muscovy duck is about 2-3 lbs larger than the standard duck, and has a taste more like wild game fowl.  Duck is quite fatty, but this duck is a bit less fatty.  I went with one of my favourite honey duck recipes.  What surprised me was that the duck cooked faster than I thought it would. Despite the fact that it was a larger duck, it still pretty much cooked in the same amount of time as the smaller duck - and duck, I find, tastes better a bit more on the medium rare side.  It's all dark meat, so overcooking makes it dry and tough.

Still, it did turn out nice - DH quite liked it.

This is actually one of my big serving platters - this is quite a big duck!  When I measured the duck before cooking, it weighed over 8 lbs.

It turned out quite a nice deep brown, with lovely crispy skin.  Remember to slice or pierce the skin nicely before roasting, to render the fat.

I served it with some gravy made from the defatted drippings, roasted potatoes cooked with some of the rendered duck fat, garlic and butter green beans, and stir fried Chinese veggies.

It has a very dark flesh, that is actually quite rich and strong in duck flavour.

Honey Duck - usually serves 4; using a Muscovy duck, probably 4-6

2 packed tsp dried herbs de provence, or dried lavender flowers
1 tsp dried thyme (cut back if using herbs de provence)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1 duck (in this case, an 8 lb Muscovy duck), fresh, or thawed
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp dry red wine (I used a dry sherry)
4 tbsp honey (ideally a nice flower honey, like lavender honey, or orange blossom)
2 tbsp  all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 350 F.  Clean and pat dry the duck, trimming any excess fat.  Score or prick skin well with a sharp knife or fork.  Remove the gizzards, and neck and keep for another use.  Combine the first 4 ingredients, and grind or crush well with a mortar and pestle.  Sprinkle some inside cavity, and spread the rest all over the outside.

Place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.  Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Remove from oven, and increase heat to 375F.  Pour juices from pan into a 4 cup measure.  Remove duck fat and set aside. Add broth, and wine to remaining juices and combine well. Pour back into pan, around duck.  Brush 2 tbsp of honey over duck, and return to oven.  Roast for 20 minutes, basting once with pan juices.  Brush the remaining 2 tbsp honey over duck, and roast until thermometer inserted inside innermost section of thigh, but not touching bone, reads 155F.  Remove from oven, and cover with foil, and let the duck rest, on a platter.

Remove rack and place pan on burner, on high.  Boil the pan juices, removing 1/4 cup to a small bowl.  Combine the flour well with the juices in the bowl, mixing to form a smooth slurry.  Stir back into juices in pan and mix well to thicken.  Season to taste and serve with duck.

I blanched the cubed potatoes before hand, and then placed them in a shallow pan, with spices, and some of rendered duck fat, to roast.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November Tag: take 2 - Rise up and Soar (Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2014)...

So I have been busy doing a few other things, but meaning to make a second version of this months tag before the end of the month.  I really liked the Let it Snow tag - but really wanted to make something more Fall-like.  I was also going to make a leaf one, but lately, walking the dogs, and out and about, I have been seeing a tonne of birds flying and roosting in the trees, and went with a bird theme instead.  

This one is a size 8 tag, rather than the mega tag from last time.  I cut it from the same cardboard as the other tag and then die cut the feathers.  After that, I tore bits off to expose the corrugation.

I inked the face of the tag with various shades of blue, and Pumice Stone on the edges, then spritzed with some pearl Smooch, and did a bit of white spraying for a hint of clouds.

I did not have a feather embossing folder, but had the stamps to match the dies, so what I did was ink white card stock with various shades of brown, with a spritz of gold and brown Smooch.  I then embossed the feather which was stamped in light sepia.  The embossing was done with the frosted crystal EP for texture.  I then glued that behind the cut outs.

I die cut the birds from textured black stock and edged them with a wee bit of pearlescent paint - to give them a bit more lightness.  I glued them to soar upwards and off the tag, using mini glue dots.

Here, you can see a bit more of the texture of the feathers and hopefully the lightened edges of the birds.

I then printed the sentiment in gray on manila scraps, and glued them on, after graying the edges.

Because I was thinking of a night and day tag also, and originally, I was going to do the center of the feathers in vellum so the light could shine through, I worked out a concept for the back (and I do like finishing backs if possible!).

So really, this is a 2 in 1 tag....

Not as nice as the front, but you get the idea.  It was a gray tag, that I matched the die cut feathers to. I drew on the feather detailing with an embossing pen and embossed it in gold.  I then sponged grays and darker blues across the face of the tag, over a cloud stencil - I was thinking a cloudy evening.

As night was drawing nigh, the birds are resting on a wire, hence the sentiment to roost...