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easy to make pork & bok choy wonton soup

Easy homemade pork & bok choy wontons in seasoned chicken broth.

I love wonton soup. I crave it when I want something warm, wholesome and simple but I always thought it seemed too complicated and involved to make. After trolling the internets I discovered a simple recipe and great tutorial by Sarah over at the The Woks Of Life which ended up being a fun, origami cooking experience.

Easy homemade pork & bok choy wontons in seasoned chicken broth.

Easy homemade pork & bok choy wontons in seasoned chicken broth. Dont fear the folding :)

I encourage you to try it yourself, they are so good fresh out of the pot (you get to choose how well cooked you like them) and you will definitely be rewarded for the effort you put in.

RECIPE

The recipe is the pretty much same as the one over at The Woks Of Life, so head over there if you want to use the original. I just changed a couple of things to my taste and wanted to document mostly for my own reference :)

Filling

  • 4 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine (from ranch 99 asian market)

Wrapping and Soup

  • 1 pack wonton skins (I got the little yellow egg ones from ranch 99)
  • 2 cans of chicken stock (from ranch 99)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Shake of white pepper
  • a green onion or two (scallions)

Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, wash the baby bok choy, separating them from the stem as you go.  After they are all washed pop them in the boiling water until they are wilted (I totally overcooked mine but everything was still OK) Once blanched drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and then squeeze out as much excess water as you can.

Chop up the bok choy finely, not pulped but pretty small then combine with the ground pork, sesame oil, white pepper, soy sauce, salt and shaoxing wine in a bowl. Mix really well so everything is evenly distributed.

Get a little bowl and fill with about 1/2 cup of water, you will use this to ‘glue’ together the wonton wrappers so that everything stays inside when you boil them up. Grab one of your wrappers and lay it flat on your hand. Wet two adjoining edges and then put in one teaspoon of the filling. Fold over to make a triangle, then grab the two corners dab a little water to one of those corners, twist them down and join them at the back where they overlap … EASY RIGHT!!?!! Hmm, not so much first time round :) Feel free to watch this quick video for some techniques:

http://youtu.be/_wUiwMOa-BI

OK. So, keep filling and folding till all the mix is gone, I ended up using about half the pack of wrappers.

Whilst you are finishing up shaping the last third of your wontons, put another big pot of water on the stove and get it boiling, as well as your simple soup to go with it. I only made a little bit of soup, just two cans of yummy stock from ranch 99 (yep that is a whole 89 cents a can going in there) because I like to mainly just eat the wontons, not a huge bowl of soup. But feel free to double or triple the soup part it you like to sip a lot with your wontons. To make the soup, empty the cans into a pot, add sesame oil and white pepper to flavor and set it simmer.

When all your wontons are shaped your water should be boiling and your soup should be warmed up. In the plain boiling water carefully add a 2 or 3 wontons, just to test out how long you want to cook the rest.  When they rise to the surface they should be cooked so take one out and give it a taste test, if the skins are still chewy or the pork is not as cooked as you like, give it another 30 seconds and test another, I found that this is a good way to work out how long you should cook a big set of them for.

Once you have your timing down go ahead and and a bunch to the boiling water ( I have a 10″ pot so I put about 15 in at a time), moving them gently around with a slotted spoon to prevent them from sticking together. Cook them to your desired consistency then remove into a waiting bowl using the slotted spoon and pour a little soup over the top. Garnish with the green onion and some cilantro if you like that kind of thing.

All done. Go eat.

toddler no-sew superhero cape tutorial

No Sew Superhero Capes

I decided that I would create some easy felt superhero capes for B’s fifth b’day but knowing my current level of dedication to crafty ventures I did not want to take on more than I could handle so these little capes are very simple, no-sew and inexpensive! Woo-hoo! Ok on with the deets ….

No Sew Superhero Capes

MATERIALS:

  • 1 yard of 72″ felt – this will make 3-4 capes
  • coordinating colored felt for circles
  • silver tissue lame fabric or other shiny fabric that can take some heat from ironing
  • Pellon Wonder-Under Transfer Web
  • rotary cutter and rotary circle cutter OR fabric scissors
  • fabric marker or a piece chalk you stole from your children
  • spray adhesive that can be used to permanently bond fabrics, ie: Elmers Craft Bond Spray
  • recommend sew-on (you can hot-glue it on) or iron-on velcro for closure
  • templates: cape neck | circle | star - make sure to print at true size (not to “fit to page”) when printing out templates

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STEP 1.

Measure and cut felt: Because I was making a bunch of these capes I bought a yard each of couple of different colors of felt and was able to cut out 3-4 capes (depending on how well I cut) from each one and use the extra yardage to also cut out the co-ordinating circles for the motif on the back.

  • First I measured along the short side of my felt to 27.5″ and cut up along the whole 72″ to get my capes separated from the scraps (that you will use later for the colored circles on the back).
  • Then I made the first cape by measuring up 21″ on both sides and folding up to that point (giving you a 10.5″ fold), then marking 6″ up on one side and cutting along this diagonal to the other 10.5″ side.

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  • This gives you your first cape (with a little bit of scrap) and a diagonal edge that you can just fold up to cut your next one by measuring 6″ on the short side and then cutting along the diagonal that was made from the first cape  … and so on and so on till 4 capes were cut out . Each cape should be an approximate 27.5″ x 12″x  21″

CapeLaoutI dont want to freak you out or overwhelm you, but if you feel brave you can click on this little graphic that I made to see how you can maximize the yard of 72″ craft felt to get as many capes as you can, but as you can see it is really tiny, it’s hardly even there, so you can just ignore it if feel as though this is just too much detail for the casual crafter.

STEP 2.

Trace and cut out neck: Keep your cut out cape folded in half and place this template down and trace to cut out for the neck of the cape. TIP: Just make sure that you place the side that says FOLD on the folded center of your cape.

I recommend creating just one first and trying it on a toddler to make sure that looks right and to your liking before going ahead and mass producing it. My template seemed to work fine for the 3-6 year olds I made it for if you trust me :)

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STEP 3.

Creating the motif on the back: The kids are the superhero with the motif on these capes, I wanted to leave it open to their imagination and desires as to what kind of superhero they were so I did not want to brand them with Spiderman and Wonder Woman … ok, ok, so the Spiderman applique would have taken me 5 hours to cut out and stars have like 10 cuts, dont judge me. But seriously, I really wanted the boys and girls to choose whatever color they wanted and invent their own super-self.  Anyway, feel free to use any design you want, but here is the star and circle I used incase you want to go in this direction too.

So the first step to cut out your circle, if you are using scissors feel free to use this template for a 7.5″ diameter circle. I you are using a circle cutter like the Olfa circle cutter, use a 3.75″ radius. I got mine for chrismika last year and totally forgot I had it until I started cutting these bad boys out with scissors (not that it is not hard to do with scissors, but it is a little more time consuming). I totally recommend this tool for cutting out accurate and FAST circles and it is a breeze to use!

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Once you have your circle you now need the star.  I really liked the idea of having a silver shiny star so I opted for tissue lame fabric which is super shiny and just a little bit disco, which every superhero needs.  The only problem about tissue lame is that it frays like a mo’fo’ … this is why we need the magic of Pellon Wonder-Under Transfer Web.

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Trace your stars onto the PAPER side of your Transfer Web, you should be able to fit 3 wide, I would just trace out about 6 for now so that you dont have a piece to big to iron in the next step.

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Ironing the sandwich:

  1. Lay out your Pellon Transfer Web with sticky side up, traced PAPER side down on ironing board
  2. Place down the tissue lame (both sides seem the same to me)
  3. Place on thin piece of fabric (like a scrap of old cotton sheet) for iron and heat protection
  4. Iron slowly on “cotton” heat setting (NO STEAM) smoothing out as you go – dont worry if you get some creases, they seem to even out when you peel off the backing. On this step you CAN drag the iron around to press evenly.

Now you have your Pellon ironed onto your tissue lame and you can go ahead and cut out your shapes.

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Next you want to peel off the paper baking on you star and iron it onto your felt.

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  1. Place felt circle on ironing board
  2. Lay star sticky side DOWN ontop of the felt
  3. Cover with thin cotton scrap (old sheet, tea towel etc.) again
  4. Press down – DONT slide the iron around it will cause the lame to fray. Just press down for 4 seconds then lift and place down on another area for 4 seconds until you have covered the whole star.

STEP 4.

Sticking the motif on: I used spray adhesive to stick the motif on the back of the cape because it is faster than using the web again and ironing felt also changes the texture and color a little so you would have to iron the entire cape to make it all look and feel even. I used Elmers Craft Bond Spray and just made sure I stuck the motif on really fast (less than 15 seconds) so as not to invoke the removable qualities of this spray.

Elmers Craft Bond spray adhesive

I placed my stars about 3.5″ from the neck hole, but you can place them wherever looks good to you. I created a little placeholder card to put down so that I could go outside to spray then run back in and place the circle-star really fast with some vague accuracy.

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Step 5:

Final step, adding the closure: I used sticky-back velcro for my closures and I kinda regret this decision, even though I made and tested a cape the week before and the velcro held up fine it was coming unstuck on game day which was a real bummer. So, I would advise using the sew-on Velcro and affixing with hot glue or sewing on for a more lasting effect.

DONE – time to party!

superhero cape tutorial - diy no-sew felt toddler capes

capeMontage

Awesome superhero cupcakes made by Yolanda Santiago

Superhero cupcakes made by our friend Yolanda Santiago

superhero cape tutorial - diy no-sew felt toddler capes

etsy packaging makes me happy

Ooo! A package in the mail … you open it and whoo-hoo its that item you ordered from etsy …. oh, wow, look how lovely it has been packaged – a small little thing such as beautiful packaging can add so much to the overall enjoyment of a product, it becomes an experience not just an item.

Billie Monster Etsy Packaging

Beautiful little tin and handmade card: Billie-Jo M

Paper holder with stamp logo

Lovely simple brown wrapping with handstamped wrap: Kate Akatombo

Fabric Thank You Notes

Hand cut paper fused fabric to make a postcard type note: Priscilla Locke

Almost everything I have ordered from etsy has come in thoughtful packing. Whether it be a clever use of recycled materials, beautifully executed ribbon tying techniques, little extra goodies or even just a handwritten note. All these things show that the artist cares about their work and me, their faithful customer. I have even received supplies with sweet and friendly packaging, I mean, how lovely is it to receive a mundane old supply like split rings in an organza drawstring pouch with a handwritten thank you note – totally thoughtful.

Well, I am almost ready to open the shop and have come up with my packaging. My criteria for a good packaging solution is as follows:

  • functional – durable for maling and sized to fit.
  • as reusable or recyclable as possible – might have to use a waterproof mailer which will not be recyclable, but would be potentially reusable.
  • looks lovely and represents my brand.

cardiclips packaging

I have settled on post-consumer recycled paper jewelry boxes and I think they will do the trick quite nicely …. I am thinking something like this but maybe deeper boxes so I dont squish the flowers …

cardiclips packaging outside box with bow

cardiclips packaking - bow

cardiclips packaging pink birdy clip with pearl flower

I am still on the lookout for future alternatives as I have creations in mind that will not fit this box and need a little more head room. I stumbled across these little beauties from SPI whilst searching for etsy packaging alternatives and think they are really lovely. Simple, attractive and sustainable, can’t do better than that! I can’t wait to give them a go when they will be available in lower quantities, which according to SPI (Sustainable Packaging Industries) should be around May this year!

GreenKraft eco-stylish packaging

GreenKraft eco-stylish packaging

GreenKraft eco-stylish packaging

other helpful info about packaging and posting

Helpful sewing tutes for beginners

It is hard just starting out in sewing, how do you get professional looking items without really know what you are doing? Well along my travels I came across these little beauties, hope they help you out too :)

Tutorials from savvy sewers!

Tissue Holder
Zippered pocket

Sewing terms
Reversible tote
Zippered pouch (below are a couple I made using this tutorial)

nutnut goods zippered pouchesnutnut goods zippered pouch

Front zippered pouch
Personalized labels
Little bag, square bottom
Cheapass silk screening
Cheapass silk screening 2!
Zipper stuff
Hipster bag
Internal zipper pocket for bag
Front seam hobo bag
Cut out handle bag
Beautiful flower pin-cushion
Freezer Paper Stenciling
French Seams
Lined Drawstring 

magnetic snap hobo bag

printing awesomeness

screenprint

I emailed the awesome guys over at silkscreeningsupplies.com for some advice about what emulsion I should buy, seeing I am running low on my intro Speedball emulsion and I wasn’t too impressed with the level of detail I was getting out of that brand … they wrote back with some life changing info that I just tested out today with fabulous results.

exposing silk screen

Ryan suggested that I use a 500 Watt Halogen work lamp instead of the 100 watt bulb suggested by Speeadball, I got mine for $9.98 in-store at ACE but any hardware store should stock them. He told me to place it 18″ above the screen and expose for 13mins – it worked soooo well I cant believe it, no over exposure or detail lost, no scrubbing out unexposed areas, and only 13min wait instead of the 34mins I was doing previously!

perfectly exposed silk screens

Anyway, hope this helps anyone out there having the same problem as me, I am so happy to have two new perfectly exposed screens! Yee-ha!

botanical tea towel printed from perfectly exposed silk screens

row of botanical tea towel printed from perfectly exposed silk screens etsy