Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Refreshing Cucumber Tomato Salad

The other day we decided to have a last minute BBQ. It was pretty hot, and I wanted a light, refreshing salad to go along with the chicken and beef we were grilling. Most of us are watching what we eat, and I definitely didn't want to serve potato salad or anything else mayonnaise based.

Here is a recipe for what I came up with. It's quite tasty, quick to make, and looks beautiful. It would be great to bring to a potluck or to make ahead and eat as a snack. It refrigerates well for 2-3 days, and serves 8-10.

Add avocado and feta right before serving, or leave it on the side for self-service.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

1 English Cucumber, sliced thinly (about .75 lb or 340g)
1 container multi-colored grape tomatoes (1.5 lbs or 680g)
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch fresh dill
juice of 1/2 large lemon
2t Kosher salt or sea salt
Crumbled feta cheese

Place all ingredients into a large bowl as you go. Slice cucumber thinly using mandoline or sharp knife. Halve or quarter tomatoes, depending on size. Slice half a red onion thinly, then cut those slices in half. Chop fresh dill. Juice 1/2 a large lemon. Add salt and toss to coat. Tastes best with at least 30 minutes to let flavors develop.

Don't add avocado to the salad until it's time to serve it to avoid browning. Add feta at time of service as well so it doesn't break down in the lemon juice.

This makes a nice, light, mediterranean feeling dish that you can enjoy even on a diet! You can choose to leave off the feta if want it to be vegan, also.

Single serving with avocado and feta

For a Latin twist, replace dill with cilantro, lemon juice with juice of 1 lime, and feta with cotija cheese.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Steampunk Top Hats

Oi! Welcome to my post on steampunk hats!

Recently, my son was cast in a production of Mary Poppins. The director wanted to do Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in steampunk fashion, and called on me to create special hats for everyone in the number. So, I set to work creating a pattern, digging through piles of material, and gathering embellishments for what I was sure would be a fun creative process.

First, I started off by determining just how "steampunk" the hats had to be. Steampunk means a lot of things to different people. To some people, putting gears and goggles on anything equals steampunk. For them, that might be fine. To the more hardcore followers of the genre, the embellishments should be functional and/or purposeful. There are a lot of websites you can search to find information about the steampunk genre, and to help you decide how far you want to dive in.

For this particular production, the hats had to have a steampunk appearance, be sturdy to allow for dancing, and very brightly colored. Since they were going to be on stage, they had to really stand out and stay with the color scheme of the costume pieces.  In this case, function wasn't really the goal, I just needed and obvious steampunk look. One of the hats does have the capability to function and emit "steam," but I didn't finish it because it was already very heavy to dance in.

Without further ado, here are the pictures of all the hats I made. I wish the photos could convey just how cool they all turned out.

This first hat is the one that will work. Run micro tubing up acrylic pipes. Fill a travel sized hot water bottle with fog machine fog. Drill holes in screw top to fit micro tubing. Coat ends of tubing with sealant and insert into holes in screw top. Watch the fog come up through the tubing.

I'd love to hear your comments or questions!