Not Martha

Freezer Pantry: caramelized onions

Scott and I have schedules that mean during the workweek we only cook dinner together about two times a week. This makes it impractical to keep a lot of fresh food in our fridge (cleaning it out got depressing, so many unidentifiable items) so we tend to pick something up to cook earlier in the same day. To make it even easier I’ve been figuring out what half-prepared foods to keep in the freezer. For whatever reason if I made something complete (say lasagna) and freeze it we never seem to actually eat it, we prefer to make something we are craving so having components that will cut down on dirty dishes and chopping time have been making a big difference. It nearly makes me feel like I’m qualified to be an adult.

I’ve mentioned a few things I keep in the freezer before — kale, bacon layered so it’s easy to just grab a few slices, bolognese sauce — and the latest staple I’ve added is caramelized onions. I use the recipe from Tea and Cookies which mostly calls for “time, patience, and faith” which isn’t an exaggeration. The first time I caramelized onions I had to restrain myself from them off the stove too early. They need to be nice and dark:

Image by Tara Austen Weaver, Tea and Cookies.

Basic technique: two sliced onions in a 10-inch pan, 1/4 cup olive oil, medium high heat, stirring every five minutes and patience. It will take about 30 minutes. For a more detailed description go read the entry at Tea and Cookies and follow her tip about slicing bits a little thicker than others. I let these cool, put them in ziplock bags pressed flat and freeze them. Then I break off a tablespoon or so as I need it.

So far we’ve mostly been using them in egg dishes. For the omlette pictured above I used mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese left over from a salad with some of the caramelized onions to create a way more delicious breakfast than I usually have. Tara describes caramelized onions as the bacon of the vegetarian world, they are smoky and salty and add a hit of flavor whatever you add it to. And people, yum. Also, having them on hand will make you feel like a genius.

· comments [11] · 02-27-2014 · categories:food ·

iPhone games to keep you happy while waiting in line at the bank

So, something in our house sprung a leak last weekend and I found water dripping down into my sewing room. We’ll be spending the week watching our ceiling get ripped out, dried up and rebuilt. We’ve been through this before and yes, it’s the same ceiling but a completely different cause this time. Let’s pretend none of this is happening and talk about video games instead!

Device 6
I’m going to admit I have not finished this yet. I tend to play iPhone games in public situations (on the bus, waiting in line) and this one will require that you either have a keen memory or the ability to take down some visible notes (codes) to enter later on. That said, it’s worth playing with your headphones on as this mostly-text game uses audible as as well as visual cues tell a story, and the game requires you to rotate and tilt the screen to advance. This game is stylish and fun. It’s won a bunch of Best of 2013 awards and I agree. Awesomeness. $3.99 in the app store.

Blackbar
This is a fun combination of fill-in-the-word and future fiction. You are a viewer into a series of digital conversations between an all-seeing dictatorship, a rebel group and a friend caught in the middle. Your only clues are the context of the story you’re reading. It can be frustrating if you just cannot get one of the words and you are prevented from advancing. That said, if you just don’t know the answer it’s easy (too easy?) to Google and find a spoiler in return. This is one of those instances where if you love the story it’s worth engaging a friend to Google the answers and give you more gentle clues. $2.99 in the app store.

PKPKT
This is a simple game that uses Bluetooth to detect other players nearby and whoever reacts first can pick the others virtual pocket. It’s amazingly fun to get a notification of somebody nearby while you’re riding a bus or arriving at a party. But, there aren’t nearly enough players yet which is why I need you all to play. It’s got the potential to be epically fun. Free.

Home Sheep Home 2
I heart everything that Aardman Studios does so I’m a wee bit embarrassed that it took me so long to play their Home Sheep Home 2 puzzle platformer involving Shaun the Sheep and his usual suspects. In each screen you’ve got to solve some puzzles to get three sheep to the exit. Each sheep has a different ability, one jumps high, one pushes heavy things, one fits through small spaces, and you’ll need all three to solve each level. The soundtrack, humor, personalities of the sheep and the crisp sound effects make a very charming game that is balanced with just enough difficulty. As you progress there are new elements presented (gravity!) and as you play there are collectibles for us completionists. That said, if you tend to play casual games in a web browser some of the levels are available online: Underground, Lost In London, as well as the original Home Sheep Home. $.99 in the app store. (Home Sheep Home 1 is also available for $.99 but know that it’s a much shorter game.)

Snail Bob
This is similar to Shaun the Sheep, you have to get the snail to the exit on each screen. You click to move things out of the way, manipulate gravity and the like and in each level there are three stars hiding. It’s not as stylized as Home Sheep Home but it makes my problem solving pleasure centers happy. You can play a bunch of Snail Bob games online for free and if you’d like to try it out Snail Bob 5, A Love Story is a good representation of what is in the iPhone game. $.99 in the app store.

· comments [8] · 02-24-2014 · categories:iphone · technology ·

A new home for the DIY Mother’s Day Corsage: Felt Dahlia Flower Brooch

felt dahlia flower pin for mothers day

Just a quick note to say that I’ve reposted my Felt Dahlia Flower Brooch tutorial here on Not Martha. It was originally posted over at a website called Holidash that shut down earlier this year and the project page disappeared with it. I pulled together the original tutorial as well as a bunch of additional notes all in one spot: Felt Dahlia Flower Brooch.

· comments [5] · 02-20-2014 · categories:craft ·

links: food

is this STILL the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, ever? At Shelterrific.

Orangette: A good person to know. A good steel cut oatmeal recipe, and she reports that it reheats well.

Check It Out: Ernest Hemingway’s Personal Burger Recipe | Man Made DIY.

How to: Make Edible Spoons – The Perfect Holiday Treat! | Man Made DIY.

Gin Gin Cocktail, at The Ginger People website. I’m a wee bit obsessed with their Ginger Juice and all the things it can do (ginger/lemon/bourbon toddy has been a regular this winter).

11 Healthy Kale Recipes – Health.com. I would eat every one of these, who wants to do the dishes for me? Via Swiss Miss.

Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To, and the follow up “Black Rust” and Cast Iron Seasoning. This is fantastic, the how and why and what for seasoning cast iron. Via Kottke.

Valentine’s Day Treat: Cupid’s Creme Brulee // Hostess with the Mostess®. She makes caramelized hearts inside a silicone mold, what a great use for it.

Perfect Soft Boiled Egg | Eat the Love. My only regret from getting to visit America’s Test Kitchen is not forcing them to answer their best technique for soft boiled eggs. Mine is still the Egg-Perfect Timer.

Tom’s Supermarket Picks: quality oils at good prices | Truth in Olive Oil. Great information when you want a good olive oil but are only headed to your local grocery store. The notes on inequality among lines at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are interesting. Via Kottke.

5 More Great Cocktail Blogs You Should Read | Serious Eats.

Sprizee :: A simple girl replete with complications: Roasted Vegetable Lemon Tahini Salad. This looks delicious and it’s so simple.

· comments [3] · 02-18-2014 · categories:food · links ·

last minute Valentine’s Day

I’m not very focused on Valentine’s Day this year, we usually cook a fancy meal and stay in but this year we’re feeling a bit of cabin fever so we’re headed out to see the Lego movie and get cocktails at our favorite local bar. I might still get a little creative, here are some last minute Valentine’s ideas that have caught my attention.

Printable pop culture valentines over at Mighty Girl. See also: her roundup of nerdy valentines.

Valentine’s Day cocktails at Serious Eats. I’m also looking at their bitter anti-Valentines cocktails.

A simple paper heart garland that can be whipped up with office supplies, at Just Bella.

Last minute Valentine’s Day party at Oh Happy Day, a few simple things you can probably grab at Target to make staying in a celebration.

Bake a heart (or a broken heart) into a cupcake from Bake It In A Cake. (I’m still in love with all her ideas.)

I’m not a huge fan of cut flowers (because I’m thinking ahead to when I inevitably leave them too long and end up with dead flowers and a moldy vase) but my favorite Valentine’s gift remains this String Of Pearls plant (even though we’re on version #3) which Scott admits he bought me on the way home from work.

I hope you have a romantic Valentine’s Day, unless you’re dreading Valentine’s Day in which case I hope you have a really amazing Friday.

· comments [4] · 02-13-2014 · categories:holidays ·

thing I like: Merrell Captiva boots

These Captiva Strap boots from Merrell are waterproof and as comfortable as slippers. No really, the footbed is made of something slightly squishy so they feel really lovely. They are knee high, zip all the way up and the calf was more generously sized than a few other boots I compared it to. The soles are grippy rubber and there is plenty of support for my fussy feet. The shape of the toe box means there is lots of room for movement.

I brought these with me on a month long trip to England, Scotland and Ireland in November and I tempted fate by getting them at the last minute and not having a chance to break them in before we left. Yeah, a potentially stupid move on my part. But they were amazing, I didn’t get blisters or achey feet and I was warm and dry even after a few walks through very damp fields. The heel support did hit me a little higher than I would have liked and I was afraid they would rub but I was fine.

Here is the thing though, I wish they looked a little nicer. They are undeniably comfort boots, they will work with a cute outfit but these aren’t boots that can be dressed up. (Not that my own opinion on this point has stopped me from trying.) Still, there a few touches that bug me. There is a faux strap wrap around the ankle with a decorative buckle which I like but halfway up there is a rivet and a few inches over that there is a metal tag that says, very small, “waterproof”. Why thanks, but I don’t think I need to be reminded of that every time I put them on. There is an elastic panel at the top but it’s on the outsides of the boot, I’m sure it’s located just there for a reason but not knowing what that reason is I wonder if they couldn’t have tucked it away on the inside to hide it away a bit. There is a small logo embossed as well, just below the ankle. All these little things add up to make the boot look a little less tidy than it could.

All of that said, the other day I was waiting in line at an airport and I was admiring the pair of boots worn by a woman walking by. Turns out she was wearing these very same boots. Which I had on my feet at the time. So, maybe I’m being a little nitpicky about how I perceive that they appear.

Overall they get incredibly high marks for comfort and utility (like, Pry Them From My Cold Dead Feet high marks, or maybe just Get Another Pair In Brown high marks). They will work nicely for tromping around in muddy fields, looking cute with dresses and warm leggings as well as walking for many more hours than you anticipated in an unfamiliar city in an attempt to find that specialty beer shop you read about.

The Merrell Captiva Strap boots are available at Zappos and Amazon (affiliate link) in black and brown. I hover between a size 7 and 7.5 in shoes and I bought a size 7.5 in these, though the fit across the top of the foot has stretched and I occasionally wonder if the size 7 would have worked out as well.

(One quick note: I usually look for shoes over at Zappos and use the “You May Also Like” suggestions to browse out further, which can take a while and lead to scores of open tabs. Just now over at Amazon I typed Merrell Captiva into the search and it showed me 25 results for boots of various brands, many of them had been contenders in my search last Autumn. If I’d know Amazon was so good at laying down focused options like that it would have saved me a bunch of time. This is something I’ll have to remember and test out next time I’m looking for shoes.)

· comments [18] · 02-11-2014 · categories:shopping ·

links: technology

Announcing The Walk Game — Andrea Phillips.

GameFace headset offers wireless, Android-powered Oculus Rift alternative | Joystiq.

The OUYA Doesn’t Actually Suck: How to Make the Indie Console Great. Emulators? PS3 controllers? Yes.

State of the Blog Union: How The Blogging World Has Changed | Design*Sponge. All these things are true, and I really like her optimistic conclusion. Still, RIP blogs as we knew them.

Cool Tools – Ulmon Offline Mobile Maps at Cool Tools. I use an app called Offmaps to save data usage and look forward to comparing these two against each other.

SteelSeries Stratus iOS 7 gamepad launches for $20 less than its pre-order price | Joystiq. Oh boy, I’d like one of these.

Size Matters | Slog. Two games to keep an eye out for.

Indie Shows Join Forces For Radiotopia | Public Radio Exchange. I seem to continuously be finding ways to seek out the best corners of public radio and so I’m thrilled that PRX has gathered them together here. Podcast lovers, this is a list you should take note of.

· comments [0] · 02-6-2014 · categories:links · technology ·

the state of my state

We started this year with a bit of fixing up. We had a new bumper put on our car from a little accident (we were stopped at a red light and were tapped from behind by giant pickup truck which appeared to suffer no damage whatsoever), we had our bathroom floor tiled and had a heated floor (luxurious!) put in at the same time. And just when we were settling in to having things back in order our clothes washer started leaking. Sad trombone. So we’re looking at having it fixed (do people still do this?) or getting a new one. We’re also saying goodbye to any money we had hoped to putting towards a sunshiny winter getaway. Ah well. We got to ease our disappointment while sitting at a local bar with neighbors watching our football team win the Super Bowl, which was pretty darn great.

Last month I went to the Altitude Design Summit to speak on a panel and part of that was to talk about how blogging has changed drastically over the last few years. What we talked about was put much better by Grace of Design Sponge in her State of the Blog Union post last week. I also like what Jean Aw wrote in her Restart: 2014 post for NOTCOT. Both of them come to the conclusion that though it feels like things have spread so far apart with all the social media channels there is plenty of room for more fun to be had in the upcoming year. I like that.

As for me I have a few things I want to recommend to you, I need to talk about our big trip last November and I’d like to redesign this site (it’s been far too long). I had a few small projects in mind but both failed during the proof of concept stages. (Though, those involved getting to eat cake. Even failed cake tastes good.) How has your year been going so far?

· comments [14] · 02-4-2014 · categories:mumbling ·