BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


7 Comments

High-Fiber Diet

Veggie burgers have a very obvious nutritional edge over the meaty competition, bolstering their longtime reputation as healthy alternatives. Now that the options are tastier (and more realistic) than ever, it’s hard to imagine that anyone is left asking “Where’s the beef?” these days. Still, some hardcore health food fanatics are left wanting for an even more virtuous variety, immune to any of the frequent issues that plague prepared foods in general; high levels sodium, fat, and a lack of fiber can afflict even the most favorable plant-based patties.

Well, hold on to your green smoothies, because the burger of the future is finally here. Not just high in fiber, but ENTIRELY made of fiber, it’s even stuffed with more organic material.

Organic material in the form of tissues, that is. Call it silly, call it crazy, but I’m just calling it a cozy. There’s no arguing that whether it’s crafted out of cotton, hemp, or linen, it’s the healthiest burger you’ll ever find.

Pattern from Twinkie Chan’s Crocheted Abode a la Mode.


11 Comments

Shell Shocked

Whole coconuts are a luxurious culinary delight as much as they are potentially lethal weapons. Yes, you read that correctly. The humble brown-husked coconut, now fully immersed in popular culture and ubiquitous in even the most basic mainstream grocery stores, is ripe with potential… To maim or seriously injure the irreverent home cook. You’ve survived the harvest, cleared from the danger of falling coconuts that sometimes fall like bombs on the heads of unsuspecting beach-goers, but freed from the tree, that rock hard husk takes on an all new means of attack. If I were to add up all the cuts, gashes, bruises, and scrapes I’ve personally accumulated over the years of failed attempts to break into the delicious white flesh within, let’s just say it wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

In spite of it all, I keep on coming back for round after round of punishment. It was only after a sleepless night of internet searches that I thought to investigate a better way to get my coconut meat and eat it, too. Turns out, there is a trick to it. Just whack the damn thing. Seriously.

Put away the steel spikes, hammers, rubber mallets, machetes, and any other heavy artillery you thought was needed to break into those spherical fortresses. Just hit the coconut with the blunt side of a heavy knife a few times, all around the center, until it cracks cleanly into two perfect, equal halves. Catch the water in the bowl underneath and have yourself a victory toast.

With this radical new approach, I have all the coconut I can possibly eat. After drinking the water and using the meat to make coconut butter and coconut flour, I was left with the empty shells.

Nothing goes to waste around here, though, so they too became the focus of my restless mind. For the avid crafter and food photographer, what could be better than a brand new set of beautiful, organic bowls? The most difficult part of the project is sanding away the rough hairs on the outside. Once clean and fairly smooth, even out the edge just so that it’s not sharp, but allow some of the character of the coconut to remain. Strive for wabi-sabi aesthetics, not perfection.

You could stop right there and seal the deal with a food-safe enamel, or go over it first with a bold splash of colored paint. I went with a bit of glitz and glamor for this set, spraying the interior with gold before touching up the exterior with a high-contrast black matte. I know there will be many more where these came from, so the opportunities to unleash new color combinations will be endless!


19 Comments

The Final Final

It’s a familiar, if vexing routine. Intense stress of a difficult semester becomes condensed into the span of a few days, complete with a mountain of busy work that will never serve any purpose in the real world. Study, lose sleep, slave away on essays, and ultimately jump over another hurdle. Pause for a few weeks and repeat, ad nauseum. The relentless cycle of schoolwork and deadlines holds scant appeal these days, after a lifetime of compulsory education followed by an extended part-time approach to earning a degree. Still in the throes of this final wave of exams, I’m ready to get off this hamster wheel once and for all. This is my final round of finals.

Hard to believe that relief is in sight, at long last. Many years went by when I couldn’t even say for sure if I was a Sophomore or a Junior, graduating in 2015, 2016, or just graduating, period. Working online, separated from a physical campus by hundreds of miles, I was completely in the dark; there was no light at the end of the tunnel at all.

No one could have predicted what a crazy, twisting path lay ahead, nor how the journey might shape my life, far beyond basic intellectual enrichment. Pulling me across the country to this foreign land that I now call home, it may not be paradise and sunshine every day, but it sure is beachy-keen compared my once hermit-like existence.

Once the very last wave of grades crashes ashore, I can’t say for sure what the future might hold. Heck, I can’t even say what I’ll eat for dinner tonight! All I know is that there’s still so much more ahead, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have built my nest here in California to see it through.

That’s all to say, please forgive any blogging interruptions until graduation! Your regularly programmed posts will return shortly.


15 Comments

For Every Bird a Nest [of Kale]

For every Bird a Nest —
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round —

Wherefore when boughs are free —
Households in every tree —
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high —
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires —

Perhaps of kale so fine —
Of leafy greens e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires —

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house —

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

[Ever so slightly adapted from] Emily Dickinson


18 Comments

Jellyfish Season

Up until recently, I was blissfully unaware that a creature may proliferate during a specific season, just as a fruit or vegetable may have a small window of sudden abundance. That was, until a family of these gelatinous creatures descended upon my kitchen without warning.

Gravitating towards the fridge, they seem happiest near a readily available source of food, and seem wholly uninterested in moving on to warmer shores. Far from threatening and actually quite cheerful, I see no harm in letting them float about in the comfort of a safe environment. Miles away from pesky beach goers and without a care in the world, it may permanently be jellyfish season in these parts from here on in.

It couldn’t be easier to whip up a whole swarm of these sting-free softies. Simply print and cut out the template, trace the shapes on your desired color of felt, and carefully trim the fabric. Glue small eyes and embroider a happy smile on the plain head (without the tentacles). Use a matching color of thread to whip stitch the head to the head with tentacles, pausing as you reach the end to very lightly stuff it with batting. Glue a magnet to the back, stick it on the fridge, and admire your handiwork.


62 Comments

What’s Baking, Cupcake?

First things first, the winner of a copy of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is…

Commenter #71, Heather! Congratulations, Heather; you’ll be hearing from me shortly so that you can collect your prize.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Bakers can be the hardest people to find gifts for. Cookbooks may be taken as an insult, bake ware may end up as unnecessary clutter, and homemade edibles seem like they could never live up to their high standards. However, if you’re of a more crafty temperament, then it’s easy to sidestep this problem. Homemade gifts are easily the best sort, so instead of channeling that creativity into an over-sized, itchy sweater, try whipping up a set of potholders that are shaped like cupcakes!

Even if the recipient isn’t big on baking, perhaps these enticing kitchen accessories might inspire them to get in there and start making good use of their oven. It’s a win-win sort of gift; They get a lovely and useful tool, and you get the sweets that result from their use!

Recently published in Melisser Elliott’s The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, I’ve been waiting to share this pattern for over a year now, and am thrilled to finally post it here as well. Now get crafting- The holidays are almost upon us and everyone will want a pair of these cute potholders!

Cupcake Potholders

Cake (Make 4):

With an F hook and brown or tan worsted weight cotton yarn, ch 25
Row 1: (WS) dc in second ch from hook, dc in next 4 chs, sc in remaining chs. Ch1, turn (24sc)
Row 2: (RS) sc in each st across. Ch1, turn
Row 3: Working in back loops only, dc in next 5 sts, sc in remaining sts.  Ch1, turn
Rows 4-27: repeat rows 2 and 3.
Tie off.

Frosting:

Row 1: With frosting color and RS facing, attach yarn with a sc to the widest edge – right corner. Evenly space 34 sc total along the top edge. Ch1, turn. (34)
Row 2: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (36)
Row 3: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (38)
Row 4: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (40)
Rows 5 – 8: Sc across. Ch1, turn
Row 9: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (36)
Row 10: Sc2tog, sc until last 2 sts, sc2tog. Ch1, turn. (34)
Rows 11 and 12: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (26)
Rows 13 – 16: Sc2tog, sc until last 2 sts, sc2tog. Ch1, turn. (18)
Row 17 and 18: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (10)
Row 19: Sl st 4 times, switch to red yarn, and begin the cherry

Row 20: Ch 12, sl st into the next open st in the frosting. Ch1, turn. (12)
Row 21: Hdc into each st. Sl st back into the frosting. Tie off, and bury the ends of the yarn.

Repeat with all four cake pieces.

To assemble, sew two sides together using a whip stitch around.  Repeat with the other two sides.

Printable Pattern