Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Fastnacht Day, Paczki Day

Today is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or as I knew it growing up - Fastnacht Day. Before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and people give up rich foods, they use up those ingredients making pancakes or doughnuts. For the Pennsylvania Dutch those doughnuts are called fastnachts.

Aaron calls it Paczki Day. Paczki are Polish doughnuts. We found these paczki at a Wegmans in Pennsylvania. There was some info on the side of the box. Now I know how to pronounce the word paczki (Punch-key).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's goodies: Purple Mason Jars

Valentine's Day brought a giant heart balloon, flowers, chocolate and a pug card.

But here is how I know Aaron really knows me. For Valentine's Day he got me the new purple Limited Edition Ball Heritage Collection Jars. Pint and quart!

They say purple is the last in the series. I'm kinda bummed about that. In the past Mason jars have been made in the colors Aqua, Amber, Dark Amber, Emerald, Milk Glass, Cobalt, and Black. Purple jars are actually the result of clear jars with manganese in the glass that have been exposed to sunlight, or sometimes artificially turned purple through irradiation. I think they could still do "throwback" jars in amber and cobalt. Milk glass and black would be very cool also!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's food: mom's cooking

We didn't go out for a big Valentine's dinner this year. Even better we were home for the weekend and were spoiled rotten with my mom's cooking. She made us her homemade egg rolls for Valentine's Day.

And then we had bulgogi too! Lucky us!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from the Pug Bears

The pug bears would like to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. There are polar bears, panda bears, grizzly bears and koala bears. These are pug bears.

Eat your heart out, Sugar.

Soak it in, Sweetie.

The temperature was dropping even in more in Rochester so I decided to make the pugs neck warmers. I used roving instead of yarn and crocheted a simple tube to slide over their noggins. Because it's funny to put ears on something that already has ears I watched this YouTube video on how to crochet bear ears and added those too. These were quick and easy to make.

I think it's pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Ridiculous.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's leather cable holders

My Christmas crafting has me on a bit of a leatherworking kick. For Valentine's Day I decided to make my peeps leather cable holders. They are perfect for wrangling iPhone power cords and earbuds. I don't know about you but I throw all my cables into my bag and they become a tangled mess. These tidy them up and are cute to boot.

I used some upcycled leather my mom thrifted for me to make the cable holders. Besides that, all I needed were snaps and the rivet setter tools. I cut each piece of leather to 2 inches by 4 and a quarter inches. I used a paper slicer for nice straight edges. The corners are rounded with a pair of scissors. Then I added the snaps with the rivet tool. To add personalization and the little heart for Valentine's Day, I branded the leather with my wood burning tool. One of my easiest gift projects and I think everyone like them. Cute AND useful!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hello there banh mi

In 2012, Aaron and I stopped in a little shop on Monroe Ave called Whatta Banh Mi and I had my first Banh Mi sandwich. I did a lot of research beforehand regarding what exactly went into a bahn mi. I loved the idea of veggies but was a little nervous about... let's call it... mystery meat.

Why do research? Well, banh-mi sounded complicated. So much so there were multiple diagrams online breaking down exactly what was in a banh-mi. The veggies seems standard - pickled carrots & cucumber, jalapenos and cilantro. The meat seemed to vary between regular ham, meatballs and something referred to as Vietamese pork. Sometimes I would read about "ham with pigs ear added for crunch". I just try not to think too much about it.

So I didn't about it and jumped in on my banh mi sandwhich. It was spicy and it was delicious.

Eventually Whatta Banh Mi closed on Monroe Ave, moved to University and Union, and became Whatta Cuisine offering more choices than just banh mi. We stopped in one evening, only to find they didn't serve the bahn mi in the evenings. We didn't make it back again before they shut down that location. I haven't heard of them resurfacing again in Rochester.

Fast forward to the week before Super Bowl and we got the above card in the mail. Banh Mi at Wegmans? Granted they spelled it wrong but I had been doing that too. We tried tweeting Wegmans but they said that only Wegmans with pub locations had them. Bummer.

Jump ahead again to this week when a friend tipped me us off to the arrival of banh mi style sandwiches at the Wegman's sub shop. We were there that night picking them up for supper.

Is it exactly like an authentic banh mi? Not exactly. Was it tasty? Yes. No mystery pork, just ham and turkey. Also, no jalapenos, which they might want to reconsider as the spice is key to the sandwich. The pickled veggies were really fresh and flavorful. I didn't have any trouble polishing mine off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sauce vs Gravy: Red Pack Carnevale Giveaway

Lent begins this year on February 18, so the Carnival celebration before Lent begins runs from February 13 to 17. In Italy it is Carnavale, like the famous Carnival of Venice. The Carnival of Venice is where the well known carnival masks come from.

What better to enjoy during Carnival than some delicious Italian pasta? Red Pack has lots of recipes like this one for Italian Gravy. Growing up I had only known of tomato sauce. To me, gravy meant beef or chicken gravy poured over mashed potatoes. Here is a little history as to why this red sauce that simmers all Sunday afternoon is called gravy.

Red Pack sent me a few cans of tomatoes to try and I am absolutely going to give Italian Gravy a shot my next available Sunday.

Red Pack is having a giveaway to make Carnevale even more fun. You could win a big cooking prize pack worth $350 or one of the 300 Red Pack tote bags. Enter here on Facebook. The Giveaway runs though March 4.

Red Pack is also offering one of my readers a Red Pack kit like they sent me! To enter for a chance to win just leave a comment about what dish you would make with Red Pack tomatoes. I will randomly choose a winner a week from now on Wednesday, February 11. Good luck!

UPDATE: I used the random number generator and got the number 5. The 5th comment was Kat! Congrats Kat!