Saturday, January 04, 2014

Gifts for the Kids ~ Van Gogh Magic in Photoshop + Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe

Today Larr and Ellie repainted the stairwell and the hallways upstairs. It is a big change. I think I will like it once the pictures are back on the wall. Once it is done, I will share photos of it with you.

A while back Ethan shared an image that he found on Tumblr that he loved. I think he may even have had it as his background for a while. I thought it was a great idea, so I decided I would make my own version. Here's the inspiration. (I am sorry to say that I don't know its original source.):
From a technical point of view, that is easy enough to do. It turned out that the challenge was in finding the right photos. Luckily, I found one of Ethan in Goblin Valley from about 2 years ago. The dusky light was just perfect and I am very pleased with the result:
(Ethan with a Starry, Starry Night sky, thanks to Van Gogh.)
And so of course I wanted to make one for Ellie, too. After looking at Van Gogh's paintings and thinking about what images I had of Ellie, I thought this was a fun combination:
(That would be Ellie and "Night on the Rhone" by Van Gogh.)

It was so much fun to make that I was sure they would love them. Then I happen to ask Ethan in a round about way about what I was making. He replied that it might be weird to have photos of just himself in the apartment he will get some day. I had not thought about that, but I had already done the art. In the end I decided to risk it and give the gifts to the kids. Larr and I figured that if they did not like them, we would keep and display the images. I had them mounted on wooden blocks with silver edges. It is a service that Walmart offers and they are lovely. It turned out that I think the kids liked them. I still love them, so I might make a second set. We will have to see about that later.

Here's a snack we tried out today:

Baked Zucchini Fries
via: Budget Bytes

1 lb. zucchini squash
¼ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ tsp salt
1 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
1 large egg

Rinse and dry the zucchini. Cut the ends off and then cut each one into strips, approximately ⅓ inch thick.

Place the zucchini strips on a large zip top bag and add the flour and salt. Shake the bag to coat the zucchini in flour. In a wide, shallow bowl combine the panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk a raw egg with about 1 Tbsp of water until fairly smooth.

Begin to preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and then place two wire cooling racks over top. One by one, take the flour coated zucchini strips and dip them in the egg and then the seasoned bread crumb mixture. Place the breaded zucchini on the wire cooling racks. The wire racks keep the zucchini up off of the baking sheet and allows hot air to circulate underneath, which will prevent soggy bottoms. Also make sure there is a small amount of space between each strip to allow circulation.

Once all of the zucchini strips are breaded, bake them for approximately 15 minutes or until they are a medium golden brown color. Cooking time will vary with the thickness of your zucchini strips, so keep a close eye.

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