Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Leftover Pizza with a Secret Ingredient

I love leftovers. My husband, not so much.

One of my favorite (sneaky!) uses for leftovers is on pizza. Everything tastes better on pizza! 

Step One: Pizza Dough. I make my pizza dough in the breadmaker, using the recipe in Easy Bread Machine Recipes: For 1, 1/2 & 2 Lb. Machines.  I find that it's easier to roll out if I stick it in the fridge for a little while first.

Long ago, I gave up on trying to roll it out in a circle. It's not worth the effort, it fits better on a cookie sheet and it tastes just as good. Or better, if the crispy edges are your favorite part.  

Step two: Here's my secret ingredient. I found this Pesto Gorgonzola spread by Honey! I'm Home at Top Banana, my favorite produce stand, which also stocks some local products.  It sounded good, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. Turns out, it is lovely on pizza.  I don't really bother trying to spread it (I'm afraid of messing up my dough), so I just spoon some out on the pizza dough.  Don't worry, as it bakes, it will melt down into deliciously gooey puddles.

What if you can't get this Pesto Gorgonzola spread in your area?  Search for something similar, because it's worth it! I think Trader Joe's has some kind of gorgonzola spread that might work. Let me know what you find!

Step 3:  Leftover meat. I just searched through the fridge for leftover odds and ends. We had a little bit of sausage and a little bit of bacon. I chopped them into small pieces and sprinkled them over the pizza dough.

Step 4:  I also found some leftover spinach in the fridge. I have to be careful with that, green could scare my husband away, so I made sure it was evenly distributed with the bacon and sausage.  Top with some tomato sauce (You can buy specially labelled "pizza sauce" but I had a half-used jar of pasta sauce in the fridge, and that's fine, I don't really notice a difference) and some shredded mozzarella. You can use a little less cheese than you normally would because you already have that gorgonzola spread underneath too. Or go extra cheesy, that's ok too! 

Step 5: Bake at 450° for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut it into squares or rectangles, and it is so good! It's even great the next day for lunch... as a leftover! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Bowl Full of Cherries

It's been a while, I was very overdue in photographing my glass and posting photos. So, let's get caught up, shall we?  Approximately in order from oldest to most recent... to the extent I remember...

I posted this bowl back in March, so it's probably my oldest piece in this bunch. (Wow, March feels like so long ago!)  So, why repost it?  Because I now have local Washington cherries! And what's better than a bowl full of cherries? A bowl full of local cherries in a bowl I blew myself! 

Another bowl! I like bowls. I really like how the blue came out, the lines are thanks to the optic mold and somehow I ended up with a bubble in each section between the lines from the optic mold. Some glassblowers are anti-bubble but I really like the effect. I like the white lip wrap too. The problem is that the bowl doesn't sit very evenly, obviously. I probably should have thrown a foot on there, or, well, now I know how to paddle the lip and the bottom to box it in and straighten it out.  Now I know.

Green vase. I used blue murrini to wrap a necklace around it. In this instance, I let the murrini melt in quite a bit, and worked it a bit, so it ended up just making a little bit of a pattern on the vase.  

This vase is a bit of a failure, but it is what it is.  The main purpose was to learn how to make a "blown foot," which I sort of did.  The vase itself is a very dark green and I used a flower murrine as a little accent.  

I love this vase. The bottom was one of my first color drops, and it didn't extend all the way to my jack line, but I like the look of the drippy effect.  The bottom is kind of a yellow-orange and the lip wrap is a opaque aqua. This one sits nice and evenly. This is one of my favorites. 

Red vase. A little uneven, but it's a nice color and the fire-red is a nice effect. 

 I call this one "chip." Like the little teacup in Beauty and the Beast. This was a mistake, I think it was a tumbler that dropped and broke. I would have thrown it in the recycling bin, but this remaining piece looked like a little creamer so I stuck a handle on it. Isn't it cute with some coconut milk? 

Little tumbler with murrini around the middle. This time, I didn't melt the murrini in much, so it is sort of textured, turquoise lip wrap. This is a small tumbler, but it's cute.

Tall tumbler. I used a blue and green murrini on the bottom. Blown out, it just left a little bit of a design on the bottom.  With a green lip wrap.  I love this glass, but I need to work on getting the lip a little thinner so that I can drink out of it easily. This tumbler kind of needs a straw. But it's pretty!

Tiny bud vase. Another failed attempt at a blown foot. It's all clear but I picked up a tiny bit of orange frit off the marver and decided I might like the effect. There's not enough to really make an "effect," but it's ok. It's a cute bud vase. I had a flower in it a few weeks ago, I'll have to snap a picture the next time I have a flower in there.

Gnome!  This new gnome took me two separate sessions, as part of another lesson on sculpture. Remember my first gnome? There he is on the bottom right. So, my new gnome might not be perfect (I tried to use a murrine for his belt buckle, and it melted into his beard, giving him some sort of psychic eye in his beard), but I've come a long way, haven't I?

And then, a few weeks ago, I had a bit of a glassblowing revelation. 

My regular teacher, Amy, went to Pilchuck Glass School for the summer and we had a substitute teacher named Lydia for one week.  Lydia had us make clear bowls (no color, so that we could focus on your technique and see the glass better.)  My clear bowl felt like it was a very different experience for me. Lydia put a lot more emphasis on making our project technically "correct" and less emphasis on making it creatively beautiful. This was a different type of learning for me, and my project came out "perfect" in a different sort of way.  One of my (non-glassblowing) friends saw the bowl and said "If I didn't know, I'd guess you bought it in a store."  In a way, this is a huge compliment - so many of my other bowls are lopsided or flawed. But, in another way, it's not "special" in any sort of unique way. It's a clear glass similar to one you could buy in a store. But I think I worked a lot harder on this ordinary bowl, to make it even, to make it perfect.  For me, it was a revelation that if I want to put the time into fixing something, I can make it "store bought" quality.  Now, to combine that kind of quality with some creativity.

This vase is not technically perfect, but it's not store bought ordinary either. I'd like to think I'm taking things in my own direction. I bought this color not really knowing how it would come out, and I love the swirls. I don't think the photo completely does it justice, there's a tiny bit of baby blue in there and some very pale pinks, mixed with a kind of tortoise-shell colorway. I'm not completely there in my crossroad of technical perfection and artistic expression, and perhaps I never will be, but that's the journey. And the goal. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dog Training Success

I had a great moment of dog training success this morning, and I'm eager to share it with you.

A month ago, I watched this YouTube video, "How to train a dog to 'Leave it.'"  I've bookmarked this YouTube channel because it's been really helpful for me.

Since then, Olive and I have added "leave it" to our regular in-home practice sessions. Just as the video depicted, I started by putting a piece of her food on the floor, covering it, barely uncovering it so that she could see it, then clicking when she looked at me, and giving her a treat.

I slowly gave her more and more leeway to see the treat without me covering it too closely or hovering too closely. When she was getting the idea of the game, I started adding the command "leave it." But we've only really practiced "leave it" at home.

This morning when we went for a walk, I brought Olive's treat bag and clicker, which I hadn't done in a while. We've been busy and, while we've been doing training at home, we haven't spent as much time training out in the real world.

While we were walking, Olive obviously caught the scent of something and started dragging me to it. Soon I saw a bone lying on sidewalk.  I kept her leash tight so she couldn't easily reach to the bone. I said "leave it" and she looked at me! I clicked and gave her a treat. Then I moved a step forward so she could reach the bone if she wanted to, but I had my foot ready to step on the bone if she lunged for it. She looked at the bone again, and I said "leave it." She looked up at me (away from the bone!) and I gave her a big jackpot of treats, dropping them in the opposite direction of the bone.  Success!

Obviously, we need to do it more than one time to be a fully learned behavior, but I'd say we're on our way. And the treat bag and clicker are out of the closet and ready to make a regular appearance again!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Seattle POPS

While googling information about the Hillclimb Assist (a public escalator in a private building to help people avoid climbing a crazy-steep hill)...

I found a website that said that there was a POPS in this building. Which led me on another search... what is a POPS? It's a privately-owned public-space. Basically, these buildings were given some kind of zoning or building variance, and in exchange, they had to open a part of their building or their property to the public. The interesting thing is, most of the public doesn't even know these places exist. Or that they're open to the public.

For example, in this building, located on the full block between 3rd & 4th Avenue and Madison and Marion Streets, there's a rooftop garden on the 7th floor! But who would ever know that they could just walk in and go to the 7th floor?  I had read about it and I still felt unsure!

So, this week, after my tutoring session at the library, I walked into the building. I entered on 4th Ave. near Madison St., just diagonally across from the Seattle Public Library.  There are multiple elevator banks, so I chose the one that should go to the 7th Floor. I got on the elevator and pushed 7, but nothing happened. The light wouldn't stay lit. Luckily, another man entered the elevator, saw what I was doing and asked "Are you trying to get to the roof garden thing?" It turns out, it has it's own elevator separate from the large banks of elevator, more toward Marion St. (I could go back and take picture of how to find this elevator.)

I found the right elevator and took it to 7.  Ahh, the sunshine. And the views!

Ok, I admit, it's hard to see, but I promise Mt. Rainier is right there!

The Space Needle

The library

The Puget Sound

CenturyLink Field

And some green space! 

I was there around 1pm and the area was mostly full of professionals eating their lunches, reading books, and enjoying the sun. I'm guessing that they mostly work in this building because, realistically, how much of the public knows about this? 

Want to learn more about Seattle POPS? Here are a few websites I found:

and, best of all, if you've got a half-hour to spare, a 26 minute video of a walking tour of Seattle POPS, led by an architect.
The walking tour starts at about 4:28.

Get out there and explore, Seattle!