Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Steampunk Thanksgiving Centerpiece: Steampunkin

I love Thanksgiving. I prepare a lavish feast every year and may or may not have been known to glitter pumpkins and squashes for my centerpiece. 

This year I decided to go with something a little different. Another thing I love is all things Steampunk. So I decided to combine the two and make what I call a Steampunkin centerpiece.

According to the Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre  of science fiction  that typically features steam-powered machinery,especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures, that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau  design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

I assume you all already know about Thanksgiving. So here's what I did this year.  It all started with a trip to hobby lobby where I picked up two ceramic pumpkins, assorted gears, keys and locks, brass and black paint and some super glue.

To begin with, I painted pumpkins with metallic brass paint.

It's a small step that makes a big difference in the finished product.
Then it was time to open the gears and keys.
This is going to be fun.
In my mind, my pretend pumpkin machine has to work logically. So the first thing I did was install a key to wind it up on the stem using Super Glue.
Then it was time to add the gears. I put a few drops of glue on the gear.
Then I positioned it on the face of the pumpkin. It attached instantly.
I added a second key to the gear.
I placed the gears and wheels together, trying to keep some logical pattern in the way they might work together.
Then I repeated the process on the second pumpkin.

I was happy with my steampunkinks, but I still wanted a little something more. I decided to make a lighted centerpiece. This required sending my husband out in search of a piece of wood. He purchased a 3" x 1/2" by 24" piece of wood which makes up the base. I painted it with the black paint and then giving it a coat of brass paint.


After letting dry for about 15 minutes, I got back on the embellishing bandwagon. I started with some nifty keyholes.

Then I added some gears along the side.

I laid it all out according to my idea of how a pumpkin powered light fixture might work.

Thanksgiving votives purchased long ago at Wal-Mart provide the light. I must say, I like it.

Here it is with light.

I think it all looks pretty sharp.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Asian tuna tartare crisps - restaurant favorite at home

One of my favorite things to eat in the whole wide world is the Ahi Tuna Crisps at P.F. Chang's. Delicious raw tuna with an Asian-inspired vinaigrette I decided to give it a try at home after my husband texted me that he'd picked up some sushi-grade tuna at our favorite local market, Walt Churchill's Market.
To make this you absolutely need to use sushi-grade raw tuna. And once you buy it, you'll need to keep it cold. So, plan to use it soon and keep in wrapped in plastic in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator. 
For this I used a little less than a pound of tuna, but half a pound would probably be plenty. So gather these ingredients:
Sushi- grade raw tuna
Soy Sauce
2 limes or bottled lime juice
Fresh ginger
Sesame Oil
Brown sugar (optional)
One jalapeno or some jalapeno salsa
2 to 3 avocados
Cilantro (optional)
Let's start with the vinaigrette. Start with the soy sauce. For this vinaigrette I used 1/4 cup soy, 1/4 cup sesame oil and 1/4 cup lime juice. I think next time I'll use less soy, maybe 1/8 of a cup. 
Just pour out the soy into a bowl.
Add the sesame oil. Make sure to get sesame oil - it really makes a big difference in the flavor.
Then squeeze the lime juice or pour it out of a bottle.
Grate some fresh ginger into the bowl. I keep a knob in the freezer.
Whisk it all together and give it a taste. Add salt if you think it needs it. If you prefer it sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar. 
Now, let's dice up the avocado. These were a little softer and a bit browner than I would have liked. I was careful when I diced then.
Toss the avocado with some of the vinaigrette. The acid will prevent it from browning. You can either finely dice a fresh jalapeno or use some jalapeno salsa like I did here.
Toss it all lightly together. If you choose to add cilantro, dice or snip it finely and add it to the bowl.
 Now let's get to work on the tuna. Make sure you sharpen your knife first. It might also help to put the tuna in the freezer for about twenty minutes.
 Our goal is to dice the tuna into fine small cubes. I did a so/so job here.
 I put a metal bowl into another bowl of ice to keep the tuna chilled while I cut it.
 Toss the tuna in the vinaigrette. Spoon it a teaspoon or so at a time. You want to coat the tuna, but not drown it.
Mix the tuna just a little bit at a time into the avocado/jalapeno mixture. Be careful not to bruise the avocado or mush it too much.
I served the tuna tartar on Tostito rounds. At P.F. Chang's they use little fried won-ton rounds. You could probably get forty or more crisps out of this batch depending on how heavily you load the chips.
Our cat Cujo was very enthused at the smell.
It turned out absolutely delicious. Give it a try sometime.