Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sabra-Similar Hummus Recipe

I hate those posts that give you a lot of background and photos before finally giving the recipe, so I'm going to do it my way because it's my blog.  :)   I will be putting lots of tips under the recipe, so please give them a read before making the hummus.  If you like it and come get the recipe again then you can skip all the stuff you've already read.

Oh - I'm a jewelry designer, not a chef, so you'll have to figure out serving size, number of servings, calories, and all that stuff yourself. So sorry!

Sabra-Similar Hummus
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained, reserving the juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp sour salt (citric acid)
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp tahini
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup reserved chickpea juice
Put everything in a food processor and run on high for 7 minutes or so.  If it's too thick, add a bit more reserved chickpea juice and run until blended.  Make a note of how much you used for next time.  Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate.

Eat with pita chips, raw vegetables, your fingers... whatever tickles your fancy.

In full disclosure, this recipe is a modification of the Copy Cat Sabra Classic Hummus recipe from the SparkRecipes website.  That one has white pepper, and since I hate pepper, I left it out.  I also modified it to be a double batch and to tweak some of the ingredients to fit what we like for taste and consistency.

  • This makes a double batch.   I figure that if you're going to take the time to gather all the ingredients and run a noisy, messy appliance that freaks the cats out, you might as well make enough to last a while.  You could also share it with a friend or take some to a party.
  • If you have an Aldi or other discount grocery store near you, I recommend getting some of the ingredients there to save money.  If you're familiar with Aldi brands, you'll see that I got the chickpeas, olive oil, and minced garlic there.  The pita chips also came from there, saving me at least 70 cents a bag, and they taste better than other brands I've tried.
  • If you put the ingredients in the food processor in the order listed, you won't have to clean the measuring spoons between ingredients.  At the most, you may have to wipe the sour salt off of the teaspoon.  You're welcome.
  • You could probably substitute regular salt for the coarse sea salt, but I'd probably use a bit less.  We had the sea salt in the house already, so I decided to use it.
  • The ingredient that makes the hummus tangy is sour salt, which is also called citric acid.  Lemon juice alone won't do it.  I couldn't find it in our grocery store, so I ordered it from Amazon:

    There are a lot of other options on Amazon, but this one will last a very long time.  One teaspoon makes the hummus plenty tangy.  If you like it less tangy, use less sour salt.  Add more if you want your cheeks to pucker and your eyes to cross.  Either way, make a note of how much you used for next time.
  • You may have noticed in the above picture that I used purchased lemon juice instead of juicing my own lemon.

    I was using fresh lemons, but at 50-75 cents apiece, it was getting pricey.  I wasn't making hummus often enough to use all the juice, and it was going bad (or I was getting anxious that it had gone bad).  This little lemon was on sale for 99 cents, so I got that instead.  It seems to work just fine, and I don't feel too bad for cheating.

    If you are going to use the real thing, use a room-temperature lemon and roll it around on the counter, pushing down as you roll.  You'll get more juice.  There will be some oil released from the lemon, so do it on a paper towel.  If you're smarter than I am, you'll freeze the leftover juice in 2 teaspoon portions for use in future recipes.
  • Have a few paper towels handy and put one or two more down before you get started.  The tahini is very gloppy and gets all over everything.  Learn from my mistakes.  The first time I made hummus I was surprised I didn't get any tahini on the cats, that's how messy I was.
  • What's tahini, you ask?  It's a sesame paste.  You can find it in the Middle Eastern section of grocery stores, but I found this on Amazon that was cheaper per unit than my grocery store and will last for a number of batches:

  • Stir the tahini well before adding it to the food processor because it separates.  I use a non-measuring tablespoon for stirring and pushing the tahini off of the measuring tablespoon into the food processor.
  • Rinse things right after you're done using them, because the tahini and the hummus are rather sticky and will come off much more easily if rinsed immediately.  Use a sprayer if you have it.  While you're at it, you might as well wash them.  Get it over with.
  • For this batch I used about 1/4 cup of reserved juice.  It is a little thick, I think, but it tastes just fine.  I recommend using at least 1/3 cup, but 1/2 cup is probably the right amount.  The recipe I started with uses 1/2 cup per one can of chickpeas, but that makes it very thin.  Feel free to fiddle with the measurements to get the consistency you want.
  • The hummus will be warm after running the food processor.  Don't let that stop you from taste testing it with a pita chip or three.  You can evaluate the consistency and taste and make adjustments before washing the equipment.

  • To give you an idea of how much this makes, this container is supposedly five cups, and it seems to be more than half filled.  I'm going to estimate 3.5 cups.  Again, jewelry designer, not chef.  If anyone wants to be industrious and measure it, let me know what you find out, and I'll gladly update this post.

    Update: Since I'm making hummus a lot now, I decided to upgrade to a dedicated hummus bowl that looks a lot nicer than a ratty plastic container.  I got a 4 cup TrueSeal glass bowl from the Container Store (this link on their website is for all the sizes - the bowls are very nice), and the hummus fills it to the top, so this recipe makes 4 cups.  That, my dears, is how a jewelry designer does math, ignoring her math minor, computer major, and years as a programmer.  :D

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  If you try it, please leave me a comment on this post with what you think (good or bad - we can't all like the same things).  If you have any further tips, I'd love to hear those, too.

The next post will be back to my usual topics.  I'm working on a new bezel technique, and once I've perfected it, I'll post about it.  I also have plans to post instructions for a necklace made with all that political junk mail we get before elections.  I also have some new tools that need reviewing.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Book review: Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry

Three years ago, I reviewed Cathy Jakicic's book, Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider.  That link takes you to my review, which includes how to pronounce her last name.  :)  When Cathy approached me about reviewing her newest book, Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry, I jumped at the chance.  The projects in her last book were so cute and versatile, and I couldn't wait to see her new book!

Here's the cover:

Ooh!  Just these few projects are so cute, and I can already imagine experimenting with the components.

Here is how Cathy described her book:
In a nut shell, there are 20+ bite-sized stitching projects of components that can be worked into simple — or more involved — jewelry.  Also, I’m making all the projects and instructions copyright free so someone can sell what they make or teach a project with my blessing.

The audience includes stitching novices, more advanced stitchers looking for a quick project idea — or something they can sell at a lower price point because it didn’t take them an age to make.
Wait... what did she say about selling?  Everyone knows that selling pieces made from another designer is verboten, but Cathy is giving you carte blanche on everything in this book.  You can tell how impressed I am because I sprinkled German and French in that last sentence.  Das ist wunderbar!  C'est magnifique!  That's wonderful!

Why would Cathy do this?  Again I turn to her words, this time from the book's introduction:
And while I would never support teaching or selling someone else's designs without their permission - everything in this book is yours.  I don't sell my jewelry or teach very often, so you're not threatening my livelihood.  These designs were designed for sharing.  Enjoy!
There's even a royalty-free statement on the copyright page.  Personally, I would still tell people where I got the ideas from if asked.  Give credit where credit is due and all that.

Now let's talk about the projects!  Each one has loads of possibilities.  Just those on the cover spark a bunch of ideas in my mind.

The top picture shows a snippet of a necklace, but that could easily be a bracelet.  The project's instructions explain how to make the beaded bead using pinch beads (Can you say "pinch bead beaded bead" ten times fast?) then how to create a chain necklace with bi-colored beaded beads as dangles along with matching earrings.  There's also a discussion of color choices and instructions on how to make the necklace shown on the cover.

What would I do with those beaded beads?  The first thing that pops to mind is a long chain necklace interspersed every few inches with sections of crystals and beaded beads on headpins with loops on either end.  I'd probably make two or three of those necklaces in different lengths and probably with different colors of beaded beads so they could be worn separately or together for a more dramatic look.

The other pictures on the cover show three different stitches.  The earrings are brick stitch over metal rings, and the instructions show a necklace and a bracelet as well as the earrings.  The bracelet has a number of square stitch components in different colors, and the instructions have charts for the different color combinations as well as charts for another multi-colored square stitch project.  The pendant is a peyote banner, and there's a chart for flower/vine placement as well as a chart for a thin banner that looks really cute in triplicate on a simple chain necklace.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, every project has at least one variation, with many of them having two or more.  Here is an excerpt of the book Cathy said I could share:

The page on the left is the variation for "Circular logic," a cute project using two-holed beads.  I love how the end components have two thin chains coming off of them!  I'm definitely going to keep that in mind!  The page on the right is the beginning of the next project using peyote tubes as dangles on a chain necklace.  The variations for this project are a bracelet with lots of multi-colored dangles and simple pair of earrings..

If you're a beginner stitcher, this book is perfect for sampling a large number of different stitches and techniques.  Along with the ones I've already listed, there's right angle weave, cubic right angle weave, simple bead embroidery, adding stitching to a strung piece or around a larger bead, herringbone, adding fringe, working with two-holed beads, mixing chain and/or metal with beads, and more.  Wow - I nearly got out of breath there!

When you're learning a stitch or technique, it can be daunting to look at a full bracelet or necklace with nothing but that technique.  What if I don't get it?  What if I get halfway through and hate the stitch or the colors I chose?  What if I lay it down and don't pick it up again for months - will I remember how to finish it?  There's none of that in Cathy's book.  As it says right on the cover, these projects are quick and easy.  They're meant to ease you in so you learn something new, complete it in a flash, and have confidence to experiment.

For example, many people have told me that they're scared to try right angle weave (RAW).  The "Bicone Bands" project simplifies RAW - you make a strip, which is the simplest RAW to do.  There are charts to help you along the way.  Once the strip is done, you join the ends to form a little band (made with bicones, hence "Bicone Bands"), and slide them over large dagger beads.  You could do just two to get your feet wet and make earrings (see the variation!), or you could make the necklace as shown.  Then, once you're comfortable, you could take on a more complex RAW project like the "Dagger Snuggie" necklace variation:

There are charts for this as well, with numbered beads, helpful arrows, thread paths, and changes in color so you know which beads you've already worked with and which ones are new to this step.

The charts really are very nice.  They're a lot larger than you typically see in books, and they're very easy to read.  You don't have to take just my word for it, though.  My friend Angela, who is relatively new to beading, was over a week or so ago, and she wanted to look through my vast array of books for inspiration.  I chose a few that I thought were appropriate for her level, including Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry.  I had an ulterior motive, of course, and asked her to give me her thoughts.  She really liked the projects, but right away she remarked that the charts were great and would be easy for her to follow.  Thanks, Angela!

Also, because Cathy's a Beading Insider, there are tips sprinkled throughout the book.  A few tips are on how to get "solid and stiff" beaded beads and components.  Another is on how to turn a component into a link.  A few are about choosing thread colors and when you might want to condition your thread.  A few of them are geared towards helping beginners make sense of what they're doing. And ...

I could go on and on because the more I flip through the book the more I find to write about.  Just know that there's lots more in the book for you to discover and enjoy.  You can find the book in beading or craft stores, or you can order from Amazon here.

If you'd like to keep up with Cathy, check out her BeadingInsider Facebook page.  If you're reading this from 7/29/2016 through 8/5/2016, you can see Cathy's Beads Baubles & Jewels episode (#2403) online here, and this season of BB&J will air on CREATE TV starting August 7, 2016.

Have I forgotten anything?  YES!!  Goodness, there's a lot to tell you!  The August 2016 issue of Bead&Button Magazine has a book excerpt!  They have printed the full instructions for the pinch bead beaded bead main project, "Beader's Dozen"!  You can see if what I said about the charts was true, learn how to make the beaded beads, and complete the chain necklace and earrings.  They've even included the tip on how to make your beaded beads stiff.  So check it out then get the book for all the rest of the projects!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas card wall art

When I moved out on my own, I planned on sending out Christmas cards.  Every year I said, "This is the year!"  I even made a bunch of cards once.  But the season slipped by, year after year, and in 20+ years, I have yet to send out a single card.  I know... I suck.

Fortunately, though, other people do not suck.  We get cards from Steve's coworkers and from some family members and friends.  I feel awful that we don't reciprocate.  Maybe one of these years.  :)

I do save all of the cards with our Christmas decorations so we can look at them again years down the road.  We're amassing quite a stack!

While all the cards are pretty and festive, every once in a great while we get one that I absolutely love.  This year we got one that I didn't want to keep hidden away with the other cards, so I decided to turn it into a piece of art.

This is how the little wall in our entryway usually looks:

For Christmas, I removed two of these pictures and replaced them with seasonal art - a card that I framed ages ago and a framed poinsettia cross-stitch that Steve's mother found at a second-hand shop.

Steve and I went to the dollar store today and got a frame that would go great with our peach-colored wall.  In case I couldn't remember what size the card was (my memory is really flaky lately), I took a quick picture of it with my phone with two rulers measuring two sides:

This picture really doesn't do this card justice.  I don't know if any of them will.

Since it's an odd-sized card (5.5" x 8"), we bought an 8" x 10" frame, and I cut a piece of taupe cardstock to that size.  I adhered the card on it and wrote on the inside some basic information - the full names of who the card is from, who it was given to (our full names), and the year.  That way when it ends up at a second-hand store decades from now and someone decides to take it apart, there will be a little bit of history there.  Call me sentimental.

Here's the finished result:

No, it really doesn't look as good in pictures.  The birds and the ornaments on the trees are metallic and really pop.  You'll just have to come see it in person.

And here's how that wall looks now:

You can see the peach a little better in this picture.  I had to close the dining room curtains and turn on the entryway light because there was quite a glare in all three pictures.

Now that that's all done, I took everything down and put the frames in a bin.  I should have framed the card sooner so I could have enjoyed it longer, but there's always next year.

I have one more picture to replace.  That can wait until next Christmas, I think.