Jeanette - Off The Cuff

My photo
Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sharks, and crafts

This has nothing at all to do with cooking, but I wanted to share an exciting tidbit with you faithful readers, and also alert you to stay tuned to some side projects of mine in the coming weeks.

It all began when last spring, my lovely sister and her husband turned 30, and we had a big joint family birthday weekend at a really swanky beach house on the Oregon coast.  For our main dinner event, we put out some shark-themed decor, which I made personally to liven up the dinner table a bit.  (I suppose it would help to explain that my sister is a Shark-Nut!) I made some laminated shark-design name-tags for everyone's drinking glasses, and also had this idea to put some shark jaws out on the table.  Well, it turned out that purchasing a decent pair of shark jaws would cost upward of $100 so that decoration idea went back in the ocean.  Thus, I started pondering how to make some out of cardboard or paper, and the idea popped into my head about creating them from paper plates.

A thorough Google search did not yield what I was looking for inspiration-wise, aside from a few kid-oriented shark projects, so I decided instead to look for images of real shark jaws, and was able to come up with a very convincing looking paper version of the anatomical real-deal!

When the beach-weekend had wrapped up, I posted my family photos on Facebook.   My friend, Heather Mann, who is the brains behind the multifaceted and very popular saw my pics, and asked me to work up a tutorial for her upcoming Shark Week themed crafts.  I did so, quite happily, and was glad to contribute to her fun and clever website.

With the initial launching of that post, we saw quite a lot of traffic - upwards of a few thousand people.  Then last fall, as Pinterest started becoming a huge household pastime, Heather was able to use that as a vehicle to gain even more attention to the projects on her website.  I noticed a surge of posts for both the shark-jaws, and another craft which I had previously submitted to DollarStoreCrafts, (which is a Japanese-style lantern tutorial ).

In the last few days though, Heather let me know that the shark jaws had basically gone "viral" -- and the counter on her site went from about 5,000 hits to 7-8,000 in just a few days.  And as of yesterday, the very popular site BoingBoing picked up the article and a few thousand more visitors showed up.

Hearing about BoingBoing, I decided to just search it on Google, and lo-and-behold, one of the big hits that showed up on my search results was from Pee-Wee Herman's Twitter/Facebook feed.  Yes, THE Pee-Wee Herman had somehow stumbled across this project and loved it enough to post it on his own Facebook page! So within another day now, the counter on DollarStoreCrafts is up over 13,000 and counting.  I feel amused and flattered, and very honored to have come up with such a popular idea!

This surge in interest in my craft ideas has given me some incentive to also start a parallel website or blog for my various ideas and projects.  It may be a recipe one day, or a sewing project another day.  I have always been a Jane-of-All-Trades, Master of None, so this seems to be a good way to showcase all my hobbies and interests.

I'm pretty tickled, and if you are here on my site via either, or Pee-Wee's page, or BoingBoing, please make yourself at home, and enjoy the recipes that I have posted so far.  Most of them are largely invented or modified by me, and thus are about as original as any recipe can be these days...If you cook anything on my site, I'd love feedback, and  feel free to pin them to Pinterest, or share them on your own favorite social network. (Please include the original link as a courtesy to me.)

When I launch the other site, I shall let you all know!

Thanks again for all the love!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana smoothie

Well, we have had a nice snowy week a few weeks ago, followed by a nasty ice storm, which led to 380,000 homes or so without power (that was the last estimate I had heard anyway) so for quite a while I was not cooking much nor blogging, since we had no internet for a while, but the other day I thought that I wanted to upload my version of a well known smoothie from an establishment (which rhymes with Samba Loose, lest I be sued for copyright infringement) ... My version deviates a bit from theirs because I don't use sweetened yogurt (less sugar that way) and I don't use soy milk.  Actually, I don't use soy products in general, aside from soy sauce, and well... that would just be weird in a smoothie!

I'm taking this opportunity to also plug one of my favorite house hold appliances, which is the Cuisinart Smart Stick which makes single serving smoothies, grinds spices, coffee, makes peanut butter from scratch, whisks cream, and purees soup and guacamole with ease. I love it!  It's also easy to clean up, since the attachments can be removed from the motorized top, and several of them can be run in the dishwasher.  So click on the link and  buy yourself one.  You'll love it, too!

Now then, here is the basic recipe, which is quite off the cuff, but can be easily adjusted if you want more peanut butter, or more chocolate, or a thicker or thinner texture, just by adding a splash more or less milk.

1 ripe but not mushy banana (just a nice yellow one!)
1/2 cup of skim or 1% milk (give or take, depending on desired texture)
1/2 cup plain, Greek Yogurt (or other plain yogurt)
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp chocolate syrup, or plain cocoa powder
1-2 ice cubes, optional (or slice and freeze your banana a few hours before making)

Puree, and ta-da!!! Delicious, and affordable.  Not to mention lower in calories than the 700-calorie bomb at Samba Loose.  I estimate this to have about 450 calories, and only the "nut fat" which makes for a nice breakfast or protein packed afternoon pick me up.  Serve it up in a nice frosty mug for a little extra deliciousness.