Monday, January 30, 2012

In the Kitchen - Ginger Chicken Soup

I've been feeling under the weather for the last 10 days or so. I start to feel better then the coughing and overwhelming tiredness starts again. Darn you flu! I decided to make some soup because homemade soup always tastes great when you are sick. When I make chicken noodle soup I don't use a recipe and just wing it. But today I wanted to try a soup out of the January issue of Bon Appetit - Cleansing Ginger Chicken Soup on page 44. Check out my review below the recipe.

Funny thing, I had to go to 3 grocery stores to find ginger. The first two were out of stock. A change I made to the recipe is that I used only about 4 quarts of water instead of the 6 required because my pot isn't big enough for all the ingredients and 6 quarts of water. Add bigger pot to the shopping list!

Cleansing Ginger-Chicken Soup
8 servings.

1 onion sliced
2 celery stalks chopped
8 oz unpeeled scrubbed ginger cut into 1/2" slices
2 garlic cloves crushed
10 whole black peppercorns
1 3lb. whole organic chicken cut into 7 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs, 2 wings, 1 back)
Kosher salt
Cilantro Leaves (optional)

Combine first 5 ingredients in heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Add 6 quarts of water, bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low, simmer until chicken breasts are just cooked 30 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to plate let cool then cover and chill. Continue to simmer soup uncovered until broth is fully flavored about 2.5 hours longer.

Remove chicken from broth. Separate skin from bones. Coarsely shred meat. Place a fine mesh sieve over another large pot and strain broth discarding solids in strainer. You should have about 8 cups of broth. Season with salt. Rewarm soup. Dividing chicken among bowls. Pour hot broth over chicken dividing equally. Garnish soup with cilantro leaves if desired.

So I spent a good portion of a day on this soup. Granted most was just watching it simmer away on the stove. But still. It's not a 30 minute meal and eat. The house smelled marvelous while it cooked! Once it was done I let it cool and then put it into the refrigerator. The next day I skimmed off the chicken fat and had a bowl. How disappointing! I made a big pot of vaguely chicken flavored water.  I didn't taste the ginger at all. Even the chicken flavor was subtle. I guess I wasn't expecting such a light flavored broth although it's called a cleansing soup so maybe I should have. I had a bowl and got rid of the rest. If I had room in my freezer I would have frozen it to use as stock for the next time I make chicken soup. I'm looking for something more substantial when I eat. I did make a nice chicken salad out of the rest of the meat so all was not lost. I followed the recipe exactly except that I used less water - which should have resulted in a more flavorful soup. I would not recommend this recipe. FAIL!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog

I like blues/R&B but mostly the older stuff. I'm not sure how I've never heard of Big Mama Thornton before. I just ran across her and had to go to YouTube to listen to more of her stuff. She recorded Hound Dog in 1952 and it hit #1 on the charts. Elvis recorded it in 1956 and it went to #3 on the charts. Her version is great! I like it better than Elvis's. The video is fun, watching her rock out. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Z Gallerie - The Look For Less

I was browsing the new arrivals on Z Gallerie's website and saw a couple of familiar things. Check these out.

Z Gallerie Natural History Birds for  $59.95 framed is the exact same as Paper Source Cavallini Natural History Birds Wrapping Paper for $3.95. Add in a frame from Michaels using your 40% off coupon for around $9 and you save $47! $14 (plus shipping of course - although I'm within walking distance of the Paper Source Evanston IL store) is a great price for a framed 20"x28" print.

 Z Gallerie Butterflies $59.95. Paper Source Cavallini Butterflies Wrapping Paper $3.95

Z Gallerie Skeltal System $59.95  Paper Source Cavallini Skeleton Wrapping Paper $3.95

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vintage Elephant Lamps

As seen on Craig's List Chicago. Look at these adorable vintage elephant lamps. I love the red trim on the lamp shades. I'd pair them with turquoise walls and a black and white chevron rug.

They'd be so cute in a nursery or little boy's room. At $50 for the pair they are a steal. Find them here

Monday, January 16, 2012

Updates to the Living Room

Here are some pictures of a recent update to my living room. This is where I started from back in April 2010.

With the first picture this wall was an accent wall and was painted a rich fudge brown. I started with bright fabric squares and some smaller painted canvases. This was before I had nailed down a color scheme. Well actually I thought I'd go with these bright colors but it never worked. During 2011 I decided to move away from the bright colors and stick with turquoise, green and brown with orange accents. I had rotating artwork on the wall. Nothing ever felt right. A lot of the time it was just blank with nail holes while I waited for inspiration. The orange accents were short lived. I don't even have pictures of this wall with them. The brown started to feel overpowering. All my furniture is brown and it was just too much with the brown accent wall and brown patterned carpeting.

Now the accent wall is turquoise like the rest of the living room. My son helped me paint it when he was home for winter break from college. I framed the Audubon prints I got for free from a friend in thin black frames and hung them in a grid pattern. I changed out the lamp with another one I already had. The vintage lamp with the vintage furniture started to just feel old. I wanted something more colorful and modern. The originally wood and cheap gold metal colored lamp was first painted orange. Now it's a bright blue. The blue might look jarring right now but picks up on the bright blue in the drapes to be hung soon hopefully. The lamp shade was a $7 find at Goodwill still in the wrapper. I like how the black frames and lamp shade work in this part of the room.

I swapped out the chair for the larger one in my bedroom. The scale feels better in the living room. The chair has the fabric I'm going to upholster it in draped over it. Saying I'm going to upholster might be misleading. I'm going to price out having the covers done. I'm not sure my sewing machine will sew the heavy fabric. And I want them to look good! I need to refinish the oak frame and fix one support strap. Stay tuned for that project soon.

Anyway I'm really pleased with how this part of the living room is shaping up. These last updates only cost me around $110 for the 9 frames and new lamp shade. The turquoise paint was left over from the rest of the room. I already owned the lamp. The bright blue paint was a small tube of artist paint I already had. The chair I already owned. I purchased the green fabric years ago on eBay and finally have a project for it.

I've only lived here 4.5 years and I think I've finally got it. I've also finally nailed down a color scheme. (And this time I think I'm going to be able to stick with it!). Remember I started with the bright colors (and was once told it looked too circus like). Then I went to orange accents (even though I really wanted pink/fuchsia). Now I'm at peacock colors: turquoise, bright blue, shades of green, gold, accents of purple and black.

Life would have been much easier if I had an inspiration piece when I started in the condo. I just picked paint colors I liked and tried to decorate from there. It never worked. Pick an inspiration piece and draw from there for a cohesive look. Even though I have no peacocks in my design I can pull inspiration from the colors for a pulled together look.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'm Back!

I'm back! Did you miss me? I took a break last year from this blog. I was blogging at a couple different places about life in general and my minimal journey (which lasted about a year). But I missed talking about decorating and cooking and design. I missed you guys! I thought I'd restart at Black Kat's Design and add in the general life posts and thoughts from my other blog here. Thanks for sticking around. I hope you enjoy reading the new Black Kat's Design. Oh and new year new blog look. Let me know what you think of it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Crazy Craigs List

I just love window shopping on Craigs List. Most of my condo has been furnished in mid-century modern furniture from there. Of course I haven't paid "mid-century modern" prices. Oh no. I search for things like "old" or "walnut" and have found great deals. And even though I don't need any pieces I continue to actively shop for bargains I can flip for cash. Besides Craigs List cracks me up. People are crazy and don't know what to call things or how to spell or are delusional about what they have. Case in point: $1195 for a dresser, mirror and two night stands. Yes, they are solid wood. But it's pine! And you can buy new for much less. Maybe if it were Baker or vintage or on trend. But this stuff?! for $1195 -- Good Luck.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Updates to the house

Here are some pictures of recent updates. It will be fun to see what stays and what goes during 2012.

With the first picture this wall used to be painted brown and had rotating artwork on it. Nothing ever felt right. Now it's turquoise like the rest of the living room. I framed the Audubon prints in thin black frames and hung them in a grid pattern. The originally wood and cheap gold metal colored lamp was painted orange and then a bright blue. The blue looks jarring right now but picks up on the bright blue in the drapes to be hung soon hopefully. The lamp shade was a $7 find at Goodwill still in the wrapper. The chair has the fabric I'm going to upholster it in draped over it. Saying I'm going to upholster might be misleading. I'm going to price out having the covers done. I'm not sure my sewing machine will sew the heavy fabric. And I want them to look good!

I created a bar nook in the dining room with a chest from my bedroom. I added all the bar type items I already had. I hope to add a tray, switch out the orange ice bucket for something shiny, get some decanters for liquor and actually purchase liquor. I need a piece of artwork behind the ice bucket to fill in that space.

I updated the colored boxes from orange to white and bright blue. I knew the orange wasn't going to last long after the last china hutch redo. I also moved out all the vintage dishes and made room for them in the bar chest. Things look better. I still think I'm going to put paper up on the back of the cabinet to brighten things up. 

I'm trying out a larger canvas in place of the smaller paintings my son completed. I like the larger scale. I just have to bring the other up from the basement and actually paint some type of art on them. It is still to high above the couch but with the larger piece its better. I don't want to patch holes in the plaster and repaint so it stays where it is. I added new pillows to the couch, a table runner to the coffee table to help keep it from getting scratched until I can teak oil it and more plants. Ugh. I hate my couch. It's a cheap Ikea couch (even cheaper - I got it for $30 the night I moved in. My gorgeous Room & Board leather couch wouldn't fit up the stairs). I dyed a natural slipcover brown and now its all stretched out. It's probably not in the budget to get a new couch this year unless I can find something decent on Craig's List. And even then its not a high priority in the budget. Although I have plans for the rug to change. And the old black slipcover might reappear. I think I'd really like a white slipcover. I know I won't be able to keep that looking fresh though so it's not a good solution.

I love my $7 pillow from Marshalls. The colors are perfect.

Like I said it will be fun to see what updates I get accomplished this year. I have a long master decorating plan with all the updates I want listed. This year I'm going to focus on completing the living room, dining room, bathroom and 2nd bedroom. Everything in those rooms is about 85% complete. I want to paint the kitchen and master bedroom but won't get much else done in those rooms this year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Boy this year has zipped by! Even though I had some health challenges and I was still adjusting to having my son away at college, the year has been better than the last several. I am thankful.

I've spent some time writing down both personal and decorating goals for 2012. I only accomplished one major personal goal from last year (out of 5) and I'm looking foward to a more focused and purposeful life this year. On the decorating front I hope to finish my living room, dining room, bathroom and 2nd bedroom. Those rooms are 85% finished. I just need to focus (see a theme?) and get them completed. I'll love to have those projects off my to-do list.

One goal I have is to get back to my writing. I want to blog once a week this year. I had to decide which blog to use (I have several) and I think Pink Laundry Room is a good spot for my ramblings mixed in with some decorating and design inspiration. 

What about you? How was your 2011? What are your goals for 2012?