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barstools: boring to brilliant breakfast bar

4 Aug

With my recent move into a new house and no less than 13 part-time/unpaid jobs (chalk it up to “valuable experience” and the self-appointed title of Relationship Builder), furnishing and decorating has become one lofty crafting soirée. I’ve realized that when projects are contingent on spare time, “Do-It-Yourself” translates into “I’ll-Get-Around-To-It-Eventually”.

In a valiant effort to prioritize and stick to my ever-growing, I-can’t-wait-to-try-this crafting agenda, my equally over-stretched roommate Meghan and I turned one seemingly ordinary night into a upholstery/baking/movie fête. We introduce thrifting and discounts to this spontaneous evening, along with the ability to tap into friendly neighbor resources, and produced one cost-effective and spirit-lifting transformation.

Bar Stools: $15

Fabric: $7.50

Staple Gun: Free (“on loan”)

Step 1: Remove the cushion from the wooden bar stool. In our case it was attached with screws, so we simply unscrewed and separated the two pieces (I’ll spare you before pictures of that once new, now nostalgic “khaki-inspired” cushion).

Step 2: Lay the cushion, face down, on a piece of upholstery fabric and beginning on one side staple the fabric to the cushion. Instead of working around the cushion, I moved to the opposite side and pulled the fabric tighly to ensure smooth, even coverage. Continue stapling the two remaining sides in the same manner. The corners can be a bit tricky- I enlisted the bed-making technique and used “hospital corners” to fold the fabric around the corners of the cushion.

Step 3: Trim the fabric to create a clean finish and screw the cushion to the bar stool.

And voilá- we have ourselves a trendy, updated bar stool in which to host sweet guests at what has lovingly become a bed and breakfast for fun, out-of-town visitors stopping through!

So in an attempt to coax out-of-towners to our new home, these Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Streusel muffins (from Multiply Delicious) will eagerly be awaiting your morning glory presence in our kitchen. Our bar is always open!

(Disclaimer: My ever-growing desire to travel to France has influenced the vocabulary of this blog post. Here’s to travel dreaming…)

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peaches: from blanching to preserves.

11 Jul

An impromptu Sunday afternoon peach blanching how-to quickly turned into the most delicious summer treat (not to mention a noteworthy way to escape the humid Charleston weather that only comes after seldom seen evening rain showers or well, let’s be honest- this is just typical July climate).

Peach blanching led to peach preserves which naturally led to ice cream and cookies.

Blanching, a first for this chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, is quite the magical process. Place the peach, either one by one or in small quantities, into a pot of boiling water for about 2-5 minutes.

Then plunge those tender peaches into a bowl of ice water. Here’s where all that small child wonder is realized, the transfer from heat to cool allows the skin of the peach to be easily peeled away.

But the surprises aren’t over yet. When slicing the peaches, you will discover that the blanching process has made the pit ever-so soft, allowing you to cut right through the entire peach. Slice the peaches, sneak a bite… or two or three, or sweeten the whole batch for peach preserves.

Equal parts peaches and sugar- that’s all you need to know to can your own peach preserves or to make vanilla ice cream yearn for a sweet, sweet topping. I combined one cup of sugar and one cup of peaches over low heat until the peaches appeared transparent. Stirring is essential throughout the process to prevent sticking and burning, never outcomes you want to accompany your trial recipes. Crank the heat up to medium-high heat and boil until the mixture of fruit and syrup drops from the spoon. I couldn’t resist the in-between stage of syrup and preserves as vanilla ice cream and ginger snaps made their way onto the counter. The combination of vanilla and warm, peach preserves syrup was quickly matched with the spicy crunch of old-fashioned ginger snaps.                                                        

Remove the leftover peach mixture from the heat (if you exerted enough self-control and actually have leftovers), stir to rid of foam, place in hot jars and seal. On a side note, blanching is also useful in preserving the color of vegetables and removing the skins from nuts. So go on and please the little kids or picky eaters in your life with bright, crisp vegetables, skinless fruits, and perfectly peeled nuts.

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