Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Painting Interior Doors

So you're probably wondering why I'm posting a picture of the door leading into my garage? Well, I'm mixing it up a little today and sharing one of the projects I competed late Spring. 

When we built our home a little more than 10 years ago, I didn't want it to look brand new. I know. Crazy to spend money to build an "old" house, right? But we're way out in the middle of nowhere, and I didn't want it to look like someone just dropped a new construction down in the middle of the woods. 

So one of the ways I accomplished this was that I didn't use anything white. White looks "new" to me. It's hard to tell in the picture above, but all the interior doors and trim (baseboards, crown moulding, etc) is done in Navajo White by Benjamin Moore. It's more of an aged white/off white color. 

Even my cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms are painted Navajo White. I went so far as to distress my kitchen cabinets. You can see the corner of my pantry cabinet on the right in the picture below.

For my interior doors, I chose a style called "Santa Fe" (I think I remember that right). They look kinda like beadboard paneling. Another nod to the old.

However, the doors leading outside are those standard boring six panel metal doors. They just looked "blah" to me. So, I decided I wanted to paint them.

I consulted my local paint shop and chose the appropriate formula for the doors and decided on "Burlap" as the color. It is two shades darker than my wall color which is called "Ecru".

After doing a little research, I found the best way to paint doors. It's demonstrated in the pictures below.

First, remove the door knobs and deadbolt lock. Put them all in a Ziploc bag with the screws to stay organized, then forget where you put the bag to keep it safe. Yep. Moving along.

Lay down a drop cloth to protect your floors and then use your cat as an anchor. If you have a cat, you understand this is not negotiable. He will volunteer his services.

Using a good 1" paintbrush, first tackle the recessed area of the paneling.

Next, fill in the middle of the panels.

Switch to a larger brush and finish the door. I used horizontal strokes on the top, bottom and between the panels. I used vertical strokes on the sides and down the middle of the panels. The first coat (and even the second) will not cover completely. Better to do multiple coats than to try to cover in one. It'll never dry and is more likely to smudge.

Allow to dry and repeat same pattern. It will take about 30 days to "cure" so don't hit is with anything or scrape it with keys, etc. It's dry in a day, but not hard as nails yet.

It took me three coats and about three hours (come and go, not solid work) to complete this project. I waited 24 hours to replace my doorknobs (OK, it took about that long to find them!), but that was not a big deal since this door opens to my garage and could remain unlocked. If this was an exterior door, I would have waited as long as possible and then replaced them before going to bed.

I LOVE the way this looks! It just adds a little character and richness, don't you think? I'm not painting bedroom and bathroom doors, but I do plan to paint the inside of my front door soon. To me, it just adds to that "lived in" look.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

One Pot Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach

Here's the low down on this dish, y'all.

1) It is one of the BEST things I've ever eaten.
2) It's a 20 minute meal.
3) It cooks in one pan.
4) It is one of the BEST things I've ever eaten! (Did I say that already? Well, it seriously is, so it is worth restating!)

Heat a skillet with two tablespoons EVOO. Add one chopped red onion (I would usually use yellow or vidalia, but this is all I had that night)...

And one pound mild Italian bulk sausage.

Break up the meat and saute meat and onions until meat is done and onions are translucent.

Add two cloves minced garlic.

This gnocchi can be found on the pasta aisle. I accidentally grabbed the mini, but I loved it. I'll get it next time, too. This stuff lasts in the pantry for months.

Add the uncooked gnocchi.

Mix well.

Add one can diced Italian tomatoes with juice and 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth. (Be sure to get the ones with basil, garlic and oregano.)

Stir well again. Cover and cook over medium heat until gnocchi is tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

You'll need one small bag of baby spinach (about 4 cups).

Add spinach and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese; stir until spinach has wilted and cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with another 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Cover and let sit on warm stove for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I have to thank my friend, Angie Brenneman, for bringing this one to my attention. She made this for Italian night for our cookbook club a few months ago. It was my favorite dish that night! I made it not long ago after a long day at the lake. Everyone loved it. My brother, Jon, even said it was delicious! He's got good taste, but usually my food gets a grunt (as he dives in) or maybe a back-handed compliment. I mean - I am his big sister, and he can't just tell me he likes something! But he did the night I made this. School will be starting again soon, and our schedules will revert to craziness, so I'm picking up what I need for this to keep on hand. You should to.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Gulab Jamin

We have some dear friends from India and over the years, they have had us into their home and served us authentic Indian food many times. In return, they love venison, so I have prepared that for them, and one of Gerald's kills each year goes into their freezer. 

Rosie is from the East Coast of India, and they eat a lot of seafood there, so shrimp is usually on the menu at the Khadanga's home. And she always, ALWAYS, makes Gulab Jamin...because she knows they're my favorite. In fact, she always doubles the recipe and sends the leftovers home with me. I guard them with my life...sharing only if I have to!

I thought it was time I tried my hand at this classic treat, and it fit perfectly with my Asian-inspired menu. I hope you'll like them as much as I do.

The recipe does call for three unusual ingredients, but I found them at Fresh Market. First, the rose water. Rosie does not use this in her's but it was called for in many of the recipes I saw. It really adds to the exotic flavor of this dish. If you can't find it though, don't worry. Just omit it. Next is red saffron, which is arguably, one of the most expensive spices around. It comes from the crocus flower and is plucked and dried. It adds color and flavor. All you need for this recipe is a pinch (maybe four or five threads). I think I paid less than $5 for the pack. I also bought a small package of ground cardamom. It's a warm spice, kind of like cinnamon.

I am giving you the basic recipe, but what you see below will look like more. I quadrupled it. Yep, it's that good.

In a large saucepan, make your simple syrup by combining 1.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook unitl sugar is completely dissolved.

When the sugar is almost completely dissolved, add 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder.

When the sugar is dissolved, the water will look somewhat opaque.

I let it cool until I could handle it, then poured this into my crockpot and added 1/8 teaspoon of rosewater. (Yes, the measuring spoon above says 1/2 teaspoon - remember I quadrupled my recipe!) Go easy on the rose water. It is NOT as subtle as the name sounds!

Add a pinch of saffron - four or five strands.

This is what I used for a quadrupled recipe.

Stir well and allow to dissolve in the warm water.

Time to make the doughnuts!

This recipe calls for dry milk. I know, doesn't sound all that appetizing, but stay with me. By the way, this can be found on the baking aisle.

Add 1 cup milk powder, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon softened butter (not melted). Mix with a whisk.

Add one to two tablespoons milk and mix to get this sticky, damp dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for thirty minutes. It will thicken.

I forgot to take a picture of this, but I laid out a piece of parchment paper and after thirty minutes, I used a spoon to drop healthy teaspoons sized balls.

Preheat your canola oil to about 350 degrees. When my oil was ready, I picked up each ball and lightly shaped them with my hand and gently dropped them into the hot oil. These will drop to the bottom when you first put them in. Gently use a spoon to loosen them.

Keep an eye on your oil. Don't let them burn. Adjust heat as needed.  These will generally roll over all by themselves as they cook - kind of like hushpuppies. I used my slotted spoon to gently stir them to encourage them to cook evenly.

Remove them to a paper towel lined sheet pan as they are done. They are rather small when they come out of the fryer, but don't worry...

When they were finished, I placed them all in the simple syrup in my crock pot and covered it. Mine has a "keep warm" setting. As they sat, they absorbed the liquid. I would GENTLY press them into the syrup until they were all plump with the delicious rose-scented liquid. Once they are plump, they're about the size of a golf ball.

I like to serve these warm. Leftovers go into the fridge and you can easily heat them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. A perfect serving is about 4-6 gulab jamins. They will last a couple of weeks in the fridge - but only if no one knows they're there and you (secretly) only eat a few a day! Enjoy!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Thai Cucumber Salad

Last week I shared my recipe for Satay Chicken Noodle Salad. Today I'm giving you the recipe for my Asian-inspired side dish, Thai Cumber Salad. They serve this as a condiment with Thai toast and chicken patties at my favorite restaurant, Lek's Taste of Thailand. I always ask for extra! It's so light and fresh, and I love the crunch of the cucumbers.

Begin by preparing your cucumbers. I doubled this recipe. I took four seedless English cucumbers and washed them well with soap and water. Cucumbers are usually treated with a wax to keep them fresh longer. Be sure to get this off before eating...

I cut off the ends and then cut them lengthwise.

Even though they're technically "seedless", they have a pulp and tiny seeds in the middle which hold a lot of water. I used a small teaspoon to scoop out the middle.

Next, I cut the halves in half. Then I sliced them into half-inch quarters.

I placed the cucumbers in a colandar and sprinkled them with one teaspoon of salt. Stir well. I let them sit and drain for about 30 minutes. Nearly a cup of water came off them. Rinse really well and pat dry.

Meanwhile, I pulled out a mason jar (my favorite way to make a dressing) and mixed 1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar, two tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Shake well to blend and set aside.

I dressed the salad before I left for my club meeting in Montgomery, and then just before serving, I added a palm full of toasted sesame seeds. (And of course, I got busy laying everything out for the meal and forgot to take a picture of the final dish!)

This was slightly sweet, cool and crunchy next to my Satay Chicken Noodle Salad. The perfect complement! Tomorrow I'm sharing dessert. You don't want to miss this!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!

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