Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beef Stroganoff Recipe

I made beef stroganoff for the first time last night.  It was yummy and very filling - I could barely finish my plate!  I got the recipe from my mom and it wasn't too hard to follow.  The only problem I ran into was when I was at the store trying to buy the ingredients.  The recipe called for 1/2 pint of sour cream but ounces were the only measurement listed on the sour cream tub.  I had no idea how many ounces were in a pint so I ran around the store trying to find something that had both pint and ounce measurements on it.  After looking through what felt like half the aisles I finally found a pint can of beer labeled 16 ounces.  That meant that I needed 8 ounces of sour cream.  It wasn't until I got home and started to cook that I remembered the old saying "A pint's a pound the whole world round."  Wish I had thought of that earlier!

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 2-3

- 1 pound round steak cut into 3/4 inch pieces (you can substitute 1 pound of ground beef if you'd like, I think it would still taste pretty good)
- 2 Tbsp shortening
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1-6 ounce can mushrooms (I couldn't find a can that was exactly 6 ounces, I just got the closest I could)
- 1-10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 6 drops Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/2 pint (8 ounces) sour cream
- flour for coating meat
- egg noodles or rice to serve with the stroganoff

Dip meat into flour and brown in hot shortening.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Cook until onions are transparent.  Add all other ingredients EXCEPT sour cream.  Simmer on low until meat is tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally (if the sauce gets too thick while simmering you can add a small amount of water).  Add sour cream just before serving.  Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Amigurumi: My First Attempts at Crochet

I haven't tried very hard to learn to crochet in the past, but last week I discovered something that made me want to pick it up: amigurumi! Amigurumi is the Japanese word for knitted or crocheted stuffed animals. I LOVE me some stuffed animals and they're great gifts for kids but I've only knitted one before and it was a pain. But it didn't seem like it would be that hard to use crochet to make an animal so I though I'd give it a try.

These are my first attempts. I started out crocheting plain balls using the instructional videos at I experimented with different weights of yarn and various hook sizes. Next I tried my hand at following an animal pattern: a mouse designed by KristieMN of the forums. I successfully made a large grey mouse and a tiny white mouse:

I was going to continue making little animals but I got an invitation in the mail to a first birthday party for the son of one of my friends. Ambitiously I thought I'd try to crochet him a teddy bear. It was a lot of work but I managed to finish it (about an hour before the party!). The pattern I used was the adorable Beary Jackson at But since that bear was only about 6 inches tall sitting, I decided to try an enlarged version of the pattern that the creator posted on Here's the result:

I was pretty happy with how he turned out! The only thing I didn't really like was the size of his legs - if I crocheted him again I would make them a little shorter and skinnier. I also had a problem with huge holes appearing where I did normal decreases (mainly around the bottom of his head). I solved this by using an invisible decrease that I learned from a tutorial created by a helpful blogger named falwyn. I can't wait to make some more amigurumi! :)


On a different note, there have been a ton of summer projects that have been floating around in my mind lately. I want desperately to start on one of them but sadly there are always other activities that have a higher priority. To keep myself motivated I'm going to list some of them here. Hopefully I can get to everything before fall!

Summer Project List
- Make some of my old t-shirts into tank tops. I live in Arizona so my required summer uniform is a tank top and shorts - otherwise I'd be sweating all day! I have a ton of old t-shirts that I hardly ever wear so I'm hoping that if I can make them into tank tops then they'll get more use. I'd like to find a free pattern that shows how to finish the cut edges so they don't roll (which t-shirt fabric always does).

- Make black-out curtains for our bedroom. Perhaps to give us more time to be out of doors during the cool morning hours, Arizona has decided not to observe Daylight Savings Time. Unfortunately this means that in the summer it starts to get light about 4:30 AM, making it really hard to get enough sleep! I made curtains for the bedroom last winter but they aren't much help since they aren't lined. Right now we are making due with heavy blankets thrown over the curtain rods but we really need some black-out fabric!

- For one week, design a new craft item each day and then blog about it. I've been making things but not designing much of my own stuff lately, plus I'd like to see how hard it is to do a blog entry every day.

- Make another puppet video for The Office. I'm hoping I can get the help of my branch with this because I am fresh out of story ideas!

- Paint our guest bathroom. I'm thinkin' orange. This probably won't happen because I'm too chicken to commit to any color but white!


Finally, for those of you who managed to read all the way to the bottom, here's a funny video I recorded of my cat reacting to my attempts to play the ocarina. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My First Commission: Three Knitted Scarves

I knitted these three scarves for my mom - she's going on a trip to England and will be staying with some friends for a few days so she wanted to give them a gift.  I guess the scarves aren't technically a commission because she's not paying me with money.  Instead she's promised to get me an awesome souvenir - I can't wait to see what she picks out! :)

Project Name: Simple Scarves
Time Taken to Finish: about 2 hours each
Materials Used: 1 ball each of Lion Brand Homespun Yarn in: Barley, Granite, and Edwardian (left to right in the photo)
Special Tools Used: Size 13 knitting needles
What I Did: Cast on 10 stitches.  Knitted until scarf was about 5 feet long.  Cast off stitches and weaved in ends.
What I Liked About the Project: I love projects that only use knit stitch, I can just knit without having to count or think about it.
What I Didn't Like About the Project: I can't think of anything, it was easy and fun! :)

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