Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reichenbach Aqua

I am not a paid color tester for any glass companies, not that I would ever turn down the opportunity if such a thing existed. Nor am I a professed expert on anything glass related - color, viscosity, compatibility or otherwise. I am just a beadmaker trying to get a handle on the ridiculous bundles of unorganized and uncategorized glass in my studio.

If I am ever to get my act together and determine which colors I absolutely must have in my collection, I need to start taking notes. Since I am taking notes for myself, I thought I might as well share them with everyone else just in case you might find my ramblings interesting or useful. So here is my first color review: Reichenbach Aqua [RL-4015].

In rod form this glass is a very pretty pale aqua with a slightly more greenish tint than Effetre pale aqua. There are really no surprises when melting it and it stays true to color in bead form. I didn't bother to do any reactive testing with silver, sulfured glasses and the like because I was really most interested in the how the glass itself works up, although I bet it would be gorgeous with some fine silver.

It is stiff. Very stiff. I sometimes like to use Effetre pale aqua as an encasing glass, but I would not do the same with the Reichenbach. It took too long to melt and never got nice and buttery, which is a quality I like for encasing. It took a fair amount of heat to get it malleable enough to press. Admittedly, it took me three attempts to get enough heat in the bead to squish it cleanly - which is a tricky balancing act when pairing it with heat sensitive pinks and purple like I did.

The color is sharp and crystal clear like most of the transparent Reichenbach glass I have worked with. It did not bubble or scum for me at all and retained is beautiful clarity though all the tormenting I gave it. It is a very pretty color, but at nearly 3 times the price of its Effetre counterpart, I cannot justify making it a staple in my palette. Perhaps if it was a little more dense and not so pale and worked up a bit softer I would reconsider.

These beads currently up for sale on eBay if interested.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vegan Crockpot Chili

No. This is not a foodie blog. Or a recipe blog. So don't have any expectations that you will find your next gourmet dinner posted somewhere on this site. Actually this blog isn't really about anything in particular, but rather a hodge-podge eclectic mix of random musings and ramblings by yours truly.

Today, however it is a recipe blog because I thought it time I shared my famous vegan chili recipe with the rest of the free world. And I wanted to pin it to my pinterest board. Today I am making this dish by request of my 5 year old. It is her absolute favorite and I like to make my girl smile. Besides, who can argue with a 5 year old wanting to eat something so ridiculously healthy?

Admittedly, I am a cook by sight/taste/feel kinda gal and rarely take exact measurements. But for all you anal compulsive measurers out there I decided to write down some "ballpark" estimates for you. By all means tweak and modify to your hearts content to get it just right for you.

1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1 green pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup frozen corn
1 small can sliced black olives - drained
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 can of each black, pinto, kidney and great northern beans - drained and rinsed
1 serving of homemade chili seasoning

Wash, chop, drain and rinse everything and throw it all together in the crock pot. Stir it all up and cook on low 8-10 or high 4-6 hours. I usually serve this with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar (and a nice huge handful of nacho chips) which makes it not vegan anymore, but still most definitely vegetarian and quite possibly the healthiest thing you can put in your mouth.

As a bonus, today only, you get 2 for the price of 1! Yes. Two recipes in one blog post. It's probably the most blogging you'll get out of me for the next 3 months so don't get too excited.

After that little health challenge I took last year I have become a compulsive label reader (yes, even more so than I was before). Since I didn't understand half the ingredients in my old stand-by cheater chili seasoning packet I decided it was time to make my own. This is mostly borrowed from a recipe I found on allrecipes with just a few minor tweaks.

3 Tbsp flour
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper (adjust to your desired heat level)
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
mix together and store in an airtight container.

This makes about 2 servings for my crockpot chili (5-6 quarts). I usually mix up a fresh batch when I make chili and store half in a recycled spice jar for the next time.

Please note I feed this to my Minnesota born, Norwegian heritage children so it is most definitely not spicy. If you like your chili to have a little heat I suggest increasing the amount of crushed red pepper to the spice mix and tossing in a can of green chilies and/or a diced jalapeno to the chili to give it some more zing.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!