Friday, May 18, 2012

Purple Shisho Pesto Recipe

I bought this amazing purple shisho at my neighborhood farmers market the other day.  We have green shisho plants growing all over the yard, but I had never seen purple.  It's a beautiful herb, often referred to as japenese basil.  So it was perfect for a pesto.  If you've never heard of shisho you should check this link out.  It has a nice overview of how to grow it and what you can do with shisho.  It's super easy to grow, and does great in containers if you don't have much space.

This was also my first time making pesto.  It seemed easy enough, but for some reason I just kept buying those little expensive jars at the supermarket.  But not any longer, here is what I did...

INGREDIENTS : 4 oz. shisho, 4 garlic cloves, salt, 2 tbsp parmesean cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil
STEP 1 : I roughly chopped up a small bunch of shisho (about 4 oz. or so) and 4 garlic cloves, and added pinch of salt.  Using a pestle and mortar, I ground it up into a paste.  You could also use a food processor for this.
STEP 2 : I transfered the paste to a bowl and gradually stirred in 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese (you could use more cheese of course!).  Then I mixed in 1/4 cup of olive oil. 
And that's how easy pesto is!  We couldn't wait to eat it so I cooked some pasta, drained it and threw in a little more olive oil to coat the noodles.  I added about half the pesto for a meal for two.  It was amazing!  Especially with a big chunk of italian bread.  I think I might make a little pesto pizza with the rest. 
I can't wait to make a big batch of pesto this summer when all our shisho grows in.  I'd like to try experimenting with other herb combinations too, maybe throw some oregano or savory in with the shisho.  It's an easy way to preserve the herbs and still keep that fresh taste!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Real Bird Wing Necklace Tutorial

I found this bird wing in my yard weeks ago.  I didn't know what I would do with it, but I knew it would be cool! 

While brainstorming about Mother's Day it all came together.  I thought about this crazy project my mom had us do as kids, where we had to go around collecting dead birds and pin them on a poster to study their anatomy.  My mom's pretty cool and I make her all kinds of crazy jewelry.  And then I remembered that bird wing I left sitting on my front porch.  I didn't want to give it up, but it was too perfect!

I don't condone killing any birds, but if you happen to find a bird wing yourself you should try this!  If I had made it for myself I would have done a hairclip, but there are many variations you could do!

MATERIALS : found bird wing, resin, hand drill, necklace chain, clasp
STEP 1 :  I made up a small batch of resin (I use Easy-Cast, but any brand should work) and I coated both sides of the bird wing.  I let it dry over night on a piece of parchment paper. 

STEP 2 :  I clipped off the excess resin on the edges and drilled 2 holes in each side.  I used a hand drill, but anything small and sharp should punch through the resin if you do it soon after it has hardened.

STEP 3 : I bought a simple chain and clasp made by Vintaj brand (which is about the only company I can find at craft stores that produces jewelry findings made in the US).  I attached the chain through one hole and the clasp through the other so the necklace connects in the front.
The necklace turned out great and my mom loved it!  This project got me thinking about road kill and other ways to reuse found animal parts.  Not sure if I have the stomach for it, but there are all kinds of opportunities there and at least it would give some purpose to the animal's death.