The recipe is Gemelli with Shrimp and Sugar Snap Peas, from the June issue of the magazine (online version can be found here). This recipe was one of four recipes printed on detachable cards; this is a monthly feature in the magazine, the recipes on the cards usually tied together thematically. These four were all one-pot recipes. This recipe called out to me because I love shrimp and the other ingredients were really interesting - sugar snap peas, feta and lots of lemon and dill. I decided to make it on a Saturday night, which is when the Bear and I have our standing weekly at-home date, consisting of dinner, dessert, beer and Netflix. I like to cook easy meals on these nights and this seemed like a good one to try out.
Most of the ingredients are pantry staples for me. I love feta and usually have some around for topping salads. I buy large bags of frozen peeled, de-veined shrimp at Costco periodically and can usually make three dinners for the two of us from a two-pound bag. The recipe called for fresh dill, which I do not usually keep on hand and the fresh dill in the store seemed a bit wizened when I shopped. I had plenty of dried dill in the spice rack, so I used that instead. I made my own chicken broth, as I usually do, from my favorite Knorr bouillon imported from Mexico (it's cheap and very good). I sliced the snap peas a bit more thinly than the recipe photo shows; I was concerned that they might not be able to cook enough in the allotted time.
Surprisingly, the only difficulty with this recipe was the pasta. I checked four different stores and could not find gemelli pasta in any of them. The recipe specified "gemelli or other short pasta," so I took the liberty of using fusilli, which is readily available in all of the same stores and is about the same size and volume as gemelli. I think it worked fine.
The recipe technique was interesting. You're cooking the pasta in a combination of water and broth, in much less volume than you'd normally use, and the water absorbs into the pasta as it cooks. Then the peas and shrimp go in, along with lemon juice and zest and some of the feta, making a sauce that clings nicely to all the solid ingredients. I'd never done this with feta before and I was honestly a little skeptical, but I've eaten feta pureed as a dip before and that was very creamy and smooth. The sauce came together really well, thin but silky and very flavorful.
I stirred in the dried dill at the very end. I probably could have used more of it, but I was afraid to overpower the other flavors, as sometimes can happen with dried herbs. We ate right away (we're always starving on Saturday nights because we wait until the children have gone to bed so as to enjoy a quiet meal together). It was delicious. The pasta was perfectly cooked, as were the shrimp. The peas were what I'd call just-cooked, and I didn't love that because they seemed a bit tough to me, but the flavor was nice and fresh. There was a definite Greek vibe about this dish, with the lemon, feta and dill. It was easy and very good and I'd make it again for sure.
I also tried a crafty project from the June issue, DIY Painted Scarves (you can find the directions online here). The idea behind these scarves is that you make a plain cotton scarf or stole unique by stenciling it with fabric paint.
For the past few months I've been sort of obsessed with pale aqua. I've been choosing it for everything lately. I bought a new phone case in this color, a couple of new shirts, a new journaling notebook, yarn! It's just catching my eye all the time. My scarf has a slight white-to-aqua ombre effect. I found it at Jo-Ann Fabrics, where they have a small selection of scarves. I used Tulip Soft Metallics fabric paint in Platinum. I wanted my scarf to be softly embellished, pale and breezy and just faintly blingy.
These were the rest of my supplies. I made my own stencil, in the interest of frugality. When I shopped for the type of small, all-over repeat stencils suggested in the tutorial, I found them to be very expensive. There weren't any in the local craft stores I checked, and if I'd ordered them online, the shipping rates were more than the stencil prices. I liked the look of one scarf in the magazine with a dotted design. I thought it would be interesting to have dots going up vertically from the bottom edge of the scarf, almost like bubbles in a glass of soda. I cut a strip of heavy cardboard and punched it full of holes in basically even rows using a standard metal hole-punch tool. I used an old paintbrush on its last legs because I knew I'd need to throw it away after using it for fabric paint. I used an index card to squirt out small drops of paint for dabbing onto the brush, and masking tape to hold the stencil on the fabric as I worked. I covered the kitchen counter, where I worked, with big sheets of white drawing paper taped together.
I dabbed the paint on sort of randomly, filling in the holes here and there, as opposed to doing each and every one. I wanted it light and airy, not planned-looking. My stencil worked okay. It got a bit soggy by the time I finished the first scarf-end. If I were doing it again, I'd use a different material for the stencil, probably acetate.
After I finished the first end, I hung the scarf on my laundry rack, letting it dry before starting to stencil the other end. The paint bottle says it needed 72 hours to dry, but I'd applied it very thinly and it's so dry here that the paint was quite dry after two or three hours. Dry enough to work with, anyway.
It's really hard to photograph. It didn't help that all the photos for this post were taken within a couple of days of receiving my new camera and I was pretty helpless with it at first. But hanging the scarf in the sun helped; backlighting made the stenciling stand out. I like it. I probably won't make any more of them, unless for a special gift, because I tend to buy my scarves in thrift stores (seriously, 25 cents is unbeatable, especially for an accessory that gets practically no wear), but I think this was nice for a special project just for me and I enjoyed making it.
Just for you, an awkward selfie in my bedroom mirror! I have a short, hobbit-like torso and I was trying to get a lot of scarf in the photo so I'm a little contorted. I wore the scarf with a white top, khaki capri pants and a light denim jacket. I think it made a nice summery outfit (the jacket wasn't needed for long). The scarf design is subtle, but I know it's there and it shimmers just a little bit, as much as this plain-jane really wants.
I've finished half a year of this challenge! I started in January, hoping to enrich my skills. I'd just started my subscription to Martha Stewart Living and really liked what I saw. I'm happy to be doing this self-imposed challenge. I've learned some new things. My recipes and crafts have mostly been successful, but not uniformly so. I'm enjoying it anyway, there's always room in my life for something new, especially in the kitchen and in my crafting.
If you'd like to read previous posts about my Martha & Me challenge, please click here, or on the Martha & Me button in my sidebar. So far this year, I have tried:
Spaghetti with Collard Greens and Lemon (January)
Printable Valentine cards with Swedish Fish candies and Honey Blondie Bars (February)
Mango Upside-Down Cake (March)
Asparagus and Watercress Pizza and embroidery-embellished fabric made into a pillow cover (April)
Buttermilk Oat Waffles and Bruleed Ruby-red Grapefruit (May)
Gemelli with Shrimp and Sugar Snap Peas and DIY Painted Scarf (June)
I hope you'll stay tuned for further installments of my challenge. It's not too late to join me! Try something new from any resource (book, magazine, website, etc.) and blog about it at the end of the month. Just leave a link in my comments for us to check it out. I'd love to see the new things you're trying!