Wednesday, December 30, 2009

elvis & octopus

elvis & octopus, originally uploaded by achathampally.

baby dog playing with his octopus today.

pimento cheese potato gratin

Made this for a potluck for church on Sunday
saying it came out good is an understatement
recipe follows...
double the recipe to fill a 9x13 dish (that's what I did)

Pimento-cheese potato gratin

serves 6 • time: 10 minutes preparation, 35 minutes cooking

3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
3 shallots, finely diced (scant 1⁄2 cup)
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed dried red chile flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 9-ounce jar roasted red peppers, diced, with their liquid
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)

1 Heat the oven to 375°F, with racks positioned in the middle and the top third of the oven.

2 In a 3- to 4-quart stockpot, bring 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Then drain, and set them aside.

3 Combine the cream, shallots, chile flakes, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar of roasted peppers in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chile flakes have begun to stain the cream, about 2 minutes. Add half of the cheese and stir until it melts, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

4 Layer roughly a third of the potatoes in a 6-cup baking dish, overlapping them slightly so that they fit in an even layer. Scatter half of the roasted peppers on top of the potatoes (cut up any peppers that have remained whole so that they lie flat), and repeat layering potatoes and peppers until all the peppers and potatoes have been used. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes and peppers, and agitate the dish to distribute the liquid throughout. Cover with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes.

5 Uncover the dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and place the dish on the top oven rack. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and gently browned on top. Serve immediately.

Send Love Today

I am part of Send Love Today which is a non-profit org that supports people with brain tumors by sending cards and small gifts. If you love sending snail mail like I do, its a nice way to spread some cheer.

If you are interested, go here for more info:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009


snickerdoodles, originally uploaded by achathampally.

ran out of cookies
so whipped up a batch of snickerdoodles

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas 2009

christmas2009, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Here's Elvis opening his presents.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy new year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

postcard from Finland

postcard, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Justina sent me this wonderful Christmas-y postcard from Finland.

finnish stamp

This Finnish stamp is so cool. The flag goes outside the normal boundaries of a stamp. Love it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


mailart-japan, originally uploaded by achathampally.

received this wonderful etegami from Debbie
2010 is the year of the tiger
what a beautiful card
and the postage stamps are gorgeous too!
its hanging up in my kitchen :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

christmas card 2009

christmas card 2009, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Here's one of the variations
I'm sending out this year

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

lion mail art

mailart2, originally uploaded by achathampally.

received some awesome lion mail art from Sherri in California.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


etegami1, originally uploaded by achathampally.

I've been interested in etegami ever since I saw Debbie's blog on etegami here:

Here is one of my first attempts. Etegami consists of a painting (watercolor), some words and a name seal. The objects painted are everyday objects. Learn more at Debbie's awesome site. Her pumpkin inspired me to paint the one I have sitting on the dining room table.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

photobooth 11/14/09

photobooth 11/14/09, originally uploaded by achathampally.

photobooth2 11/14/09

goofing around with mac's photobooth this morning

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Artsy Lizard Mail Art

mailart3 11.12.09, originally uploaded by achathampally.

from Nikki and her doggy Ziggy :)

Awesome Road Trip Mail Art

mailart2 11.12.09, originally uploaded by achathampally.

From Jes, who is also a fellow dog lover :)

mail art received

mailart 11.12.09, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Some nice mail art from J.T. Dotson in Albuquerque

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

mail art

going to Russia

going to Australia

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rice Pudding

Made this Saturday and it was easy and yummy. Adapted from an Alton Brown recipe.
I like rice pudding that is simple and has no eggs. The coconut milk adds a really delicious flavor.

Rice Pudding

1 cup cooked basmati rice (or other long grain rice)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
1/4 cup sugar (you can use white or brown)
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/3 cup raisins (dark or golden or other dried fruit)
1/2 tsp vanilla
couple threads of saffron

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine rice and whole milk. Heat til boiling and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Mixture will thicken. Add heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar, cardamom and saffron and cook for about 7-10 minutes until mixture thickens again. Remove from heat and add raisins and vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and put plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming.

Delicious warm, room temp or cold. Feeds about 4 depending on serving size.

Friday, October 30, 2009

halloween 2009

halloween2009, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Here we are at work today:

Anu: artist
Julie: mermaid
Melissa: devil woman
Crystal: little red riding hood

Acorn squash, Spinach, and Roasted Garlic Soup

This was very easy, warming and delicious. I roasted the squash and garlic the night before so things went together even faster for an easy weeknight meal. The colors are just beautiful with the golden orange yellow base and green spinach.

Acorn Squash, Spinach, and Roasted Garlic Soup

1 acorn squash
1 head of garlic
2 Tb butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups of stock
1/3 cup dry sherry
bag of baby spinach
1/3 cup milk
kosher salt to taste
fresh pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut acorn squash in half (carefully) and scoop out seeds and strings. Brush cut sides with olive oil and put face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut of the top third of the garlic and brush with garlic. Place on baking sheet. Roast both about 45 (until very tender) and let stand until cool enough to handle.

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter and saute the onions until lightly browned. Add stock, sherry and spinach and bring to a boil and let boil for about 3-5 minutes.

Scoop out squash flesh into the food processor. Squeeze out the roasted garlic and add that too. Puree until smooth. Add to the large skillet with the stock and spinach and onions. Add the milk and salt and pepper and let heat through.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

doggie social

elvis 1, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Elvis had a doggie social with Jes and Gracie
we had the best time!
Jes took this pics of Elvis :)

dog social 7

dog social 6

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spinach Pie

Made this recipe this morning for a picnic later on...

Spinach Pie

1 Tb olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
pinch of kosher salt
1 lb baby spinach, washed and dried
1/2 lb authentic greek feta, rinsed in cool water and crumbled
6 oz ricotta cheese, fresh if you can get it
2.5 oz grated parmesan
3 eggs, beaten lightly
freshly ground pepper
1-2 Tb fresh dill, chopped

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium low heat. Add onions and the pinch of salt. Saute until golden and starting to caramelize. Take you time with this - about 30 min. Let this cook while you prep the other ingredients. Transfer onions
to a large mixing bowl.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Return skillet to heat and saute spinach in batches til wilted and transfer to another bowl. Add a little oil if needed. I didn't need to. Coarsely chop cooked spinach and squeeze hard to get out as much water as possible.

Lightly oil an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Into the large bowl with the onions, add the feta, ricotta, parmesan, eggs and black pepper. Mix well. Add spinach and dill and mix again. Spoon into baking dish and smooth out evenly and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake for 30 minutes. Raise heat to 350 degrees and bake until lightly firm in the center and golden on top - about 15 more minutes. Good hot or cold.

* based on Sarah's spinach pie from NYTimes website

** I would have shown you a photo but the camera is broken :(

*** additions like garlic, sauteed mushroom or a little red pepper for color would probably be good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Martha's glitterizing tool

Latest Martha mag has an article on "glitterizing" your photo. You upload a photo and the tool creates a glitterized version to use. I think it would be fun to use as a base for a painting.

glittered elvis

eating alone

eating alone

eating alone
beet rosti with fresh rosemary
hot & crisp, right out of the pan
it is Julia’s coq au vin
for the first time
it is solitude
and simple rice crackers with goat cheese
it is making Argentinian arepas
with spice black beans
and the adventure of rabo encendido
(Cuban oxtails in red wine)
it means an easy recovery from
the panna cotta that didn’t set
sometimes its just
sardines on toast
with a sprinkle of vinegar & black pepper
and your little dog at your feet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

butternut squash

got a butternut squash at the farmer's market this weekend
and here is what I did:

peel, seed and cut squash in 1/2 inch pieces
(this takes the longest)
toss with olive oil, salt & pepper
roast on a baking sheet in a single layer
for 40 minutes at 350 degrees
meanwhile slice up an onion or two
and caramelize - add some chopped garlic
near the end
toss squash with the onions and garlic
sprinkle some bleu cheese over it
(1/4 cup is good - cheese is strong and the squash
is mild and you want to taste both)
mix and let the cheese get all melty

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alcohol Inks

My friend Jes taught me how to use alcohol inks today.
They are amazing and fun.

Here is a postcard with alcohol ink and octopus embossed over it.
octo postcard

Thanks Jes!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

mummy dogs

mummydogs, originally uploaded by achathampally.

aren't these too cute for halloween?

just wrap hot dogs in crescent rolls cut into 1 inch strips.
bake at 375 F for 12 minutes

Link here:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Balloon Fiesta 2009

Balloon Fiesta 2009 3, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Here I am with Jo goofing around at balloon fiesta
its apropo that Jo is looking at a map as I have
a terrible sense of direction
good thing Elvis is in the front seat with me ;-)

October Skelly postcard

Made a bunch of postcards last night
I love mixing collage with rubber stamping

oct skelly

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I love this

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009


DSC_0003, originally uploaded by achathampally.

haven't been knitting in while
so it felt good to make this scarf
it will be a christmas present :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

stuff on my desk

sketch, originally uploaded by achathampally.

quick sketch with tape flags

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


DSC_0001, originally uploaded by achathampally.

power was out tonight
Elvis and I played by candlelight
he is so go with the flow

pet peeves #7856, 7857 and 7858

- people clipping their nails in public
- dropping silverware in the dishwasher and having it fall under the basket
- accidently stepping on the dog's foot and hearing that awful cry


DSC_0003, originally uploaded by achathampally.

the sky this morning
when I took Elvis
for a walk

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Elvis seyz

DSC_0009, originally uploaded by achathampally.

Happy Autumn!

Monday, September 28, 2009

journal page

journal page1, originally uploaded by achathampally.

today's journal page

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

Made this yesterday while I was under the weather. Its easy and very good.

2 cups dry split peas
1 med/large onion chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups veggie broth
1 cups water
salt to taste after its cooked

Layer ingredients in crock pot in the order listed. Cook for 8 hrs low or 4 hrs high.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

photo booth

Got my new IMAC today
with snow leopard
it is amazing!
has this cool feature called photo booth :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Roasted Beet Salad

ElvisBall3 9.6, originally uploaded by achathampally.

In between playing with baby dog Elvis, I made THE most delicious salad this weekend.

Roasted Beet Salad
goat cheese

Roast beets in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool, peel and cut into chunks. Put in a bowl. Toast walnuts and chop coarsely. Sprinkle over beets. Crumble goat cheese over all. Make a classic vinaigrette - I used olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss. That's it! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to Eat Alone

While it's still light out
set the table for one:
a red-linen table cloth,
one white plate, a bowl
for the salad
and the proper silverware.
Take out a three-pound leg of lamb,
rub it with salt, pepper and cumin,
then push in two cloves
of garlic splinters.
Place it in a 325-degree oven
and set the timer for one hour.
Put freshly cut vegetables
into a pot with some herbs
and the crudest olive oil
you can find.
Heat on low flame.
Clean the salad.
Be sure the dressing is made
with fresh dill, mustard
and the juice of hard lemons.
Open a bottle of good three-year-old zinfandel
and let it breathe on the table.
Pour yourself a glass
of cold California chardonnay
and go to your study and read.
As the story unfolds
you will smell the lamb
and the vegetables.
This is the best part of the evening:
the food cooking, the armchair,
the book and bright flavor
of the chilled wine.
When the timer goes off
toss the salad
and prepare the vegetables
and the lamb. Bring them out
to the table. Light the candles
and pour the red wine
into your glass.
Before you begin to eat,
raise your glass in honor of yourself.
The company is the best you'll ever have.

-Daniel Halpern

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Las Golondrinas Part 2

Here is the website:

Las Golondrinas

Visited a living history museum today. It was a lots of fun. Las Golondrinas means "geese".