29 January 2012

Homemade Potato Chips with Rosemary

Homemade potato chips are super tasty and can be made pretty quickly and easily. In addition, you can control what kind of oil you use. Here, we used peanut oil, but I would assume you could use olive oil to make them more healthy. 


Just heat up the oil with rosemary in a frying pan. Slice up a potato into thin slices and saute in oil. We also used rosemary to give a little extra flavor, but that is not mandatory. Flip occasionally to ensure crispiness on both sides. Lightly salt (we used sea salt, but the normal kind is also fine) at end and enjoy! 

Note: They look a lot like regular potato chips when fully cooked as long as they are sliced pretty thin. I don't have a picture because they were eaten as soon as they were cooked! :)

26 January 2012

Leftover Transformation: Pulled Pork Burritos

My boyfriend and I have been working to stay within a tightish budget with groceries this spring and have been able to make some pretty healthy meals despite the constraints. Tonight we feasted on fresh veggies wrapped up inside pork burritos! Honestly, it is sort of a mix of old and new since the rice, lentils and onion mix was from Monday and the pulled pork from Tuesday, but it is always an exciting thing when you are able to make leftovers seem new. 
cheese, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes

They were super tasty, so here is how I made them! 

Monday's Rice and Lentils:
1/2 C rice
1/2 C lentils
several cups water
1 onion, chopped
about 1T oil (choose olive oil if you can, healthier!)

Boil lentils in water for 20 minutes. Give enough water to keep lentils covered. Add rice. Add water as needed to keep lentils and rice very moist. Boil 20 or so minutes until rice is cooked at mixture is soft and moist. Saute onions in oil while rice is cooking. Add to rice when all is cooked. 

Tuesday's Pulled pork:
1 pork roast
1 package dry ranch dressing

Coat roast with ranch package contents. Heat in crock pot 24+ hours. 

 Yummy Burritos
rice, tortillas, and pork
green onions

Heat up leftover rice and pork and add cheese and veggies to wheat tortillas. Yum!!

Note: We took the extra cilantro and hung it upside-down to dry for later. Will let you know how it turned out later.

19 January 2012

An Act of Destruction

What do most masters have in common with all of us? They started from somewhere. Michelangelo, one of the great painting masters, for example, started to copy liturgical (church) masterpieces at the tender age of 13. (Thanks Wikipedia). More relevantly, Marquis Mills Converse opened Converse Rubber Shoe Company only after working at another shoe company first. (Again Wikipedia). 

Anyways, the point is, everyone has to start somewhere, it it is not uncommon to look at what has come before and refer to the masters of the field for guidance and direction. This careful observance (or sometimes copying) can lead to a greater mastery of the subject for future creations.  In essence, one must first break down the elements of the object under study to fully understand and appreciate them before a person can truly make a masterpiece. Or, put more eloquently by personal favorite Pablo Picasso, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

So when I took another look at my 3 year old Nike's rips and stains, I thought, what a perfect place to find out what makes a great pair of shoes. Since these are very nearly ripped through at the heel anyways, I boldly and excitedly got to work with the scissors to see what was keeping my feet still in there and comfy. Here is what I found. 

The majority is covered with a squishy foam and breathable athletic material and bits of leather here and there. The uppers are connected to a thin felt-like material which is glued VERY TIGHTLY to the rubber bottoms. The tongue is attached to the shoe with a few stitches back and forth on a sewing machine, and the majority of non visible bits are not even finished with a simple straight stitch attaching them together. The shoelace holes have a thick interfacing in addition to the other materials to give it a bit more strength.

Most of my curiosity was about the heel of the shoe, since it has to be very hard to hold the foot in place, and it managed not to break during three hard years of abuse. Along with the foam and leather and fabric, there is a mysterious substance i can only assume to be a type of plastic, although I could imagine rawhide could also serve the purpose fairly well in an all leather shoe.  
As a side note, I did get another Nike owned product line (Converse) to replace the destroyed ones. I made custom designed shoes as a treat for my birthday (sponsored by my parents' pocketbook) and am very pleased with the results :) it was great fun, and the link to their website is HERE for any interested.
Anyways, I've ranted enough for today. If anyone has an idea what the heel material I talked about is specifically, I am still insanely curious and would love to hear from a fellow kindred spirit and/or informed observer. Thanks :)

13 January 2012

American Cobbler Enthusiast


What comes to mind?  Cooper? Blacksmith? Do you think modern career, or one of those occupations that is no longer in existence? Perhaps if you know what a cobbler is, you may think Nike or some other big-name brand that makes shoes. (For those unaware, a cobbler is a person who makes shoes. Think fairytale Shoemaker and the Elves) But does one normally think of this as a viable occupation to pursue full time? No.

The point is, a cobbler is not a person you expect to be living around the corner making and repairing shoes for your town. These people, though still in existence, are rare and generally unheard of by the general population. It is a dying art for there to be handcrafted shoes in the world, unless you want to pay top dollar for them, and even then, they are likely to be handcrafted in China or Vietnam. 
 So. The point of this ramble? To proclaim my growing obsession in the art of cobblery, cobblering, cobblerness, whatever. For the past six months, i have been scouring the web for bits and pieces of wisdom to the ever increasing mystery as to how shoes are made. So far, I have completed a fully functioning pair of leather slippers (seen in picture, left), and various other slightly ill-fitting shoe-wannabes. The success story was a pattern modified from the Native American moccasin pattern typical to the Great Lakes and Iroquois tribe. I found instructions for this pattern HERE. I have lined it with wool and flannel for increased warmth and comfort. 

I plan to continue this hobby and hopefully grow my skill enough to make shoes suitable for outdoor use, but for now, I am still an enthusiastic amateur. Anyways, I thought since the internet is slightly lacking in good information of the art of cobblering-nessery, I could perhaps share with others my findings to make the road easier for anyone else who wanted to pick up an obscure hobby. 

So there. The End. ... to be continued!!!!

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