Nigella Lawson…no, I’m not going there. She’s had a tough year, so let’s just focus on her beautiful Italian-inspired cookbook Nigellissima, filled as it is with noodles in tomato sauce; lamb ragù; mushrooms, marsala, and mascarpone…the mouth-watering list goes on.
Read on for an easy, zesty recipe for Spaghetti With Tuna, Lemons & Arugula First, here’s a tip for cooking pasta from the book attributed to Anna Del Conte, whom Nigella calls in a piece for the London Observer, ”the best writer on Italian food there is…. There are really only two important influences in my cooking life: my mother and Anna Del Conte.”
“Bring your water to a boil, add salt, then tip in the pasta, stirring well to make sure it’s all in and not clumped together. Once the water comes back to a boil, let the pasta cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean, thin kitchen towel (not a waffled-textured one) and clamp on a tight-fitting lid. Let the pasta stand like this for as long as the package tells you to cook it normally When the time is up, drain the pasta, remembering to remove a small cupful of cooking water before doing so.”
OK, get your zester out and let’s eat!
I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation I always seem to have little bits and pieces that I need to keep corralled in my hotel room. I was about to go on a cruise where that’s even more important since your stuff can roll around when you hit stormy seas, so I stitched together this nifty little caddy in a half hour. It unfolds to fit in your suitcase perfectly flat, but folds in a flash into a handy caddy to keep your earrings, shampoo, and lipstick tubes all in one place!
Here’s what you need:
A piece of thin scrap paper, to make into an 11″ square pattern
A piece of cotton fabric, to cut into an 11″ square
A piece of Kraft-Tex, to cut into an 11″ square (alternately use another 11″ piece of fabric ironed onto medium weight fusible webbing)
2″ of self-adhesive hook and loop tape, cut into four ½” segments
To make a pattern, measure out an 11″ square on the thin scrap paper. Draw lines 2½” inside the edge of the lines to make a 6″ square in the center (see diagram).
Cut out the 11″ square and fold it in half lengthwise then widthwise. Then trace a rounded item (I used a mug) over the corner with four free edges (no folds on that corner) to give yourself a gently curved corner. Cut along the line.
Lay the cotton fabric right side down. Put the Kraft-tex on top of it, right side up (if you don’t have Kraft-tex, use another piece of fabric ironed onto medium weight fusible webbing. Have the fabric right side up). Press them if they aren’t smooth, then put the pattern on top, right side up and pin everything together. Then cut everything out.
Next, using a sewing machine, sew a straight stitch along the lines you drew on the pattern (going all the way from edge to edge). Next, sew a zigzag stitch a ¼” in from the edge, stitching entirely around the piece.
Tear away the paper pattern. Here’s the fun part. Kraft-Tex is a paper that looks and feels like leather, but you can do anything with it that you can do with paper. I grabbed some markers and doodled on some decoration quickly. I just wanted something cheery to look at on my trip. Next, I folded in along the straight stitched seams and pressed them.
Pinch in the corners (see photo) and press in those creases, too.
Stick self-adhesive hook and loop tape onto the fabric inside these folds so that it will hold the sides up and voila, you’re done!
If you have a bit more time you can stitch down the hook and loop tape and add a trim of bias tape, but what you have here will do the job and look festive too. Bon voyage!
CB2 is one of my favorite places to shop for totally affordable, quirky stuff that fits my style perfectly.
They sell these clear glass candle sticks that I used for a center piece for my dining room table. I like to change things up so when I wanted something different I packed them up and totally forgot about them. I recently received the new cb2 catalog in the mail and they had this great DIY project to add color to these candle sticks. It really gives them a whole new life.
The candle sticks are hollow, so you just take some leftover latex paint (I purchased a few of those sample size jars) and pour it into the bottom swirling the paint around until it coats the entire inside. You don’t need to used a ton of paint. Let them dry upside down for a few days. It tool a long time for mine to dry. When you think they are dry, put them on a paper towel or something so you don’t damage whatever surface you’ll be displaying them on.
You can match any palette in any room–mine are in my bedroom–and it takes no time at all!
Remember the sewing project involving the thrifted quilt top I mentioned at the beginning of January? It’s finished!
My copy of Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book has saved my sanity so many times, most recently when I needed to make a few yards of piping for the patchwork pillow above. Instead of painstakingly piecing together several individual strips of fabric to make bias binding, I used Simplicity’s brilliant continuous bias tape technique (which is very similar to this) and was thrilled with how easy it all came together.
I must say, taking the time to transform a damaged or less-than-loved quilt top like the one pictured above into something you’ll be proud to display is so worth it. In this case, it boiled down to taking a quilt apart with a seam ripper and sewing the nine-patch squares back together in a pattern that IMHO is so much prettier than the original.
What would you make out of the leftover pink squares?
March is National Noodle Month and that opens up a whole world of recipes for satisfying sides and mains.
Can you think of a global cuisine that doesn’t have a native noodle? Some have so many, it’d be impossible to choose just one! In Germany, it’s pretty straightforward: spaetzle is their rich, delicious comfort food. We do want everybody to enjoy the rib-sticking goodness of noodles, so we’ll kick off this series with a recipe from Gluten-Free Pasta by Robin Asbell (Running Press, February 2014). Thank goodness for the Internet; sourcing potato starch, guar gum, and other staples of gluten-free eating is so easy now! Read more for the recipe and get your dirndl on!