Keeping Busy: Eats and Crafts

My summer is on the slow side.  Well, compared to what things are normally like for me.  I think this is because I have a break from school right now so I am not busy writing papers.  But I am still teaching and working on other writing projects.  This slow period has given me time to do other things, relaxing things, like reading and cooking, and painting pottery.

First up, here are some of the "eats" that are keeping me busy.

I love my rice cooker and I use it for a lot of things.  When I spotted this cookbook on Amazon (thanks Amazon for the recommendation) I knew I had to buy it.  I always stock my pantry with whole grains and the rice cooker is an easy way to cook them.  Right now I have rice (red, brown and black), steel cut oats, buckwheat groats, barley, kamut and quinoa (black, red and regular).  Whole grains are good for you and keep for a while in the pantry, so why not stock up!  This cookbook has a bunch of amazing looking recipes for using all kinds of grains, and then tossing some ingredients into a rice cooker, and then BAM, you have a delicious meal or side dish.  I love the idea and can't wait to try out my first recipe from this cookbook.
Next up is this sparkling lemon iced tea, 0 cal, from Lipton.  I am not a huge iced tea fan, but this was too intriguing to not try out.  The verdict: For 0 cals, it's a hit- a strange hit, one that grows on you, but a hit nonetheless.
Next comes a rediscovered piece of kitchen equipment.  I have never used this before and probably had it for 5-6 years.  You may be wondering why it lasted in my kitchen that long without being used, but the truth is I had good intentions and wanted to use, but the time never came.  And so it moved with us to Portugal and then followed us to Japan.  Then one day last week I had some broccoli in the fridge and thought I would enjoy some steamed broccoli with my pasta.  I usually use the rice cooker (it has a steamer tray for veggies), but this was a small amount for just me.  That's when it hit me.  I knew this was pushed in the back of a cabinet, so I dug it out.  It's a microwave steamer.  The very bottom holds the water, then you put the veggies or whatever in the middle, cover it, and microwave it.  It worked perfectly!  I have used it several times since.  
So what did I do with this broccoli (besides eat it, obviously)?  I added it to whole wheat rotini and then shredded some Tilamook cheddar on top, sort of a variation of mac and cheese.  So good!  And I even had leftovers to enjoy the next day for lunch.
Another things keeping me busy this summer is out balcony garden.  I made this lovely salad using our tomatoes and peppers, and then added in some mushrooms.
I think everyday this week I have picked this many tomatoes off the plants we have growing at our house.  I love it!
We also have soy beans growing, so I was finally able to pick some of these, steam them (yes, in the same steamer I showed above), and enjoy them.  Boy were these delicious!
That's it for the eats, but I do have a fun craft project to share.  Some of you may find this boring, but I took pictures of my work along the way, so I thought I would share it.  I am not extremely artistic, but I do have a little creativity in me.  The Arts & Crafts store on base carries the pottery that you can paint and then they will fire it for you.  I was looking for a fun activity, so I decided to buy a few pieces and paint them.  I selected something very appropriate for Japan- sushi plates, chopstick rests and a soy sauce pot.

Check out what I designed and painted:

Plain sushi plate
Design drawn, using coins of various sizes
Soy sauce pot lid
Soy sauce pot
Starting my painting, the line and some circles were done in a reddish-pink color
The rest of the circles were done in a purplish color
With all the circles painted in
The turquoise background painted
Everything all finished!
I was really pleased with how everything turned out.  I haven't painted in a very long time and probably even longer since I painted on ceramics.  But I was happy with this and I hope once it is fired that it turns out nicely.  I did cover this with a clear, non-toxic glaze too, because we will be eating off of these.  I would have taken a picture but it was just a crazy green color covering everything so you can't see the design anymore.  They told me at the store not to worry because it will really turn out clear once it is fired.

QUESTIONS:  Do you have a rice cooker?  Have you ever used it for anything other than rice?  What was the last craft project you did?  Have you ever painted pottery/ceramics?

6 comments:

Astra Libris said...

I love painting pottery, and haven't done it in ages! Yours is gorgeous!! Also, I adore our rice cooker - and our microwave steamer!! :-)

Rebecca Subbiah said...

adore your sake pot and wow that rice cooker cookbook is cool

Biz said...

I bought my rice cooker at Walgreen's of all places - it was $7 and it just has a "cook" and "warm" setting when it auto shuts off.

I can cook any grain in there as long as I have the right grain/water ratio - love it!

Hooray for pottery! My daughter and I used to do that when she was younger - so fun!

EA-The Spicy RD said...

Love your pottery project-such a fun design you created! I do not have a rice cooker, and I steam my broccoli in my stovetop steamer, but love your microwave steamer. I'm not much of a crafty person, but I'm always saving ideas for projects to do with my kids. Problem is, I never seem to find the time to do them!

Simply Life said...

I'm so impressed you grew those on your balcony garden!

Ameena said...

My $19 rice cooker is the best investment I've ever made. Seriously!

And you are so creative...love the way your project turned our! Somehow mine never look decent enough to use...Color Me Mine keeps getting our money though!

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