Archive | January, 2009

No DIY Orla Kiely, but I did make curtains

13 Jan

Storage shelf curtainsMy apartment has no storage space. There’s one tiny closet with a shelf I can barely reach, and that’s it. And I have a lot of stuff. So not long after I moved in, I bought some shelves from IKEA and tucked them in a little alcove in my dining area. Only, no one really wants to eat dinner with rolls of paper towels, boxes of my band’s CDs, and camping equipment right behind their heads.

So I bought some great fabric on sale at Repro Depot, and decided to make curtains to get my unsightly boxes, etc., out of sight.

I was hoping to have some extra fabric to make a handbag, but alas, the project used it all up. Who knew you really do need the fabric to be 1.5-2 times the width of the shelves?


Kale, pine nut, and bacon penne | Recipe-free cooking

12 Jan

Kale, Pine Nut, and Bacon PenneMark Bittman’s reading tonight made me realize: I eat a lot of meat. Especially for someone who used to be a vegetarian.

So rather than finishing off the beef and dark beer chili I made last night (for bros’ night — bros + Nicole), I decided to use up the piles of kale I had leftover from when I made Bittman’s potato kale soup last week. I was thinking about his note about pine nuts in his pantry-cleaning article for the NYT. If only I had some sun-dried tomatoes, I thought. Then I looked in my freezer (to get the cubes of homemade stock, also Bittman) and found my last three pieces of turkey bacon.

I have a meal! I thought. And I did. And it was delish. Here’s the recipe. Bear in mind, that I didn’t measure anything, so all quantities are approximate (the exact quantities won’t matter, as long as its roughly in these proportions).

Kale, pine nut, and bacon penne

Serves: 3 (to serve 4, use a full pound of pasta, 4 strips bacon, 3 cloves garlic, full bunch of kale)

Time: Less than 30 minutes

  • 3/4 lb. penne or other pasta
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (about a handful)
  • 3 strips bacon (turkey bacon is OK)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (plus some extra water, if needed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 3/4 of a bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped up into small pieces
  • pecorino, romano, or parmesan for the top
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • splash of olive oil
  1. Start boiling the water for the pasta, then cook the pasta. The rest of the meal will be ready just about when the pasta is done cooking.
  2. Heat a large skillet for a minute over medium to medium-low heat. When it’s evenly hot, toss the pine nuts in, swishing them around in the pan until they are semi-evenly toasted. Set aside.
  3. Turn the skillet up to medium. Cook the bacon evenly until done. Remove, chop into small pieces, and set asi
  4. Splash some water into the skillet to get all the bacon drippings. Then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a minute or so.
  5. Put the kale in the skillet, stirring to help it wilt evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more stock or water if necessary. You want a little bit of liquid to stay with the kale. When the kale is evenly wilted, add the chopped-up bacon and pine nuts and cook until heated through.
  6. Drain the cooked pasta and put individual servings on plates. Spoon the kale mixture on top. Drizzle with olive oil, then grate the cheese on top. Add more pepper if you like.
  7. Eat with a big ol’ salad and yummy bread and enjoy. Mmmmmmm.

Someday, I will learn how to get the lighting right in a food photo.

Tea Towel Bulletin Board

12 Jan

My friend Annie gave me a set of gorgeous tea towels for a housewarming gift. I kept them wrapped up in their ribbon for the longest time; they were just too nice looking to get dirty.Opening Up the Seams

At the same time, I had my old bulletin board leaning against a wall, waiting to be recovered. The pink and brown fabric didn’t match my new avocado green, yellow, and tomato red kitchen decor.

And then the chocolate dropped into my peanut butter. The prettier tea towel was the perfect size to use to recover the bulletin board. Well, almost the perfect size. I had to rip out the edges to get a little more width, then I used Fray Block to prevent the edges from unraveling. Stapling the Fabric Down

The pink and brown fabric was tacked on using upholstery tacks, so I pulled those out, revealing the original light green fabric stapled to the foam core and cardboard. I didn’t have the energy to rip all those staples out, so I covered that with some muslin (to prevent the green from showing through), then the tea towel, stretching the fabric and stapling it into place.

This also added some depth to the board, which helped it fit better into the frame. I took someTea Towel Bulletin Board old grosgrain ribbon, tacked it into the crossed pattern with the upholstery tacks, popped it back into the frame, and hung it up on the wall. Ta-da! Bulletin board and kitchen decoration all in one! I want to change it to all red ribbon, but this works well for now.


  • Thrift-store picture frame
  • Foam core and/or layers of cardboard cut to fit frame
  • Muslin (if using cardboard, to prevent brown from bleeding through)
  • Tea towel
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Staples
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Hanging wire or whatever else you want to use to hang it on your wall

What to Cook for Dinner: Nicole’s Favorites

4 Jan

My friend Alix and I were just chatting over IM about our favorite recipes, so I thought it might make a fun list. The faves are things that I’ve been cooking recently.

BTW, it affirms my assertion that the October issues of Martha Stewart Living have always been the best. Best recipes, best crafts, best covers (until Michael Boodro became editor and, really, just ruined the magazine for me).

My winter faves (all Martha):

My recent faves (my kitchen has been almost all Bittman, all the time):

  • Roast Chicken with Roasted New Potatoes (How to Cook Everything, p. 359)
  • Spicy Tofu with Ground Pork (HTCE, p. 526)
  • Baked Ziti with Radicchio and Gorgonzola (HTCE, p. 143)
  • Broccoli Raab with Sausage and Grapes (HTCE, p. 545)

On my to-cook list:

  • Gwynnie’s Caramelized Black-Pepper Chicken (GOOP)
  • Also, her Buckwheat Banana Pancakes (GOOP)
  • Our friend V’s veggie saute: red onion, mushrooms (any kind but flavorful is better), basil, zuch, red peppers, tomato. Drizzle with balsamic, let it sit together and stew. Serve over a mild white fish or polenta.
  • Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate-Toffee Cookies
  • Moosewood Cookbook’s Lemon-Anise Biscotti (this and the guacamole recipe are the only two things I make out of this cookbook anymore).
  • Bittman’s chicken stock (still choosing which one)

[[Update 1/12/09]]

How could I forget my favorite chili recipe? Sooooo good.