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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Coconut Chicken Curry with Mango

Coconut Chicken Curry with
Vegetables & Fresh Mango as a
Garnish, Over Rice
My Own Recipe

I've eaten or prepared chicken curry dishes 100's of times in my life, but tonight is the first I've fixed this particular recipe. I wanted a curry recipe with potatoes & I'm aware some people may find that odd but you'll find many Asian curry recipes with potatoes and you won't believe how good it is. I looked at 6-8 different Chinese Chicken Curry recipes with potatoes, (including YouTube) and took ingredients from each one. It was the best Chicken Curry I've ever tasted or made and believe me, I've had just about every kind of chicken curry out there, including the recipe I have here on my blog that my mom learned to fix when we lived in the Philippines (1956-1959). This curry recipe is my all time favorite now and I doubt I'll ever make it any other way from now on. It's that good! This is a hearty meal and is good enough for guests. They will be impressed.

Mary Jane's Coconut Curry Chicken
Serves 5-6 People - depending on the portion Sizes (see notes below to double the sauce)

2 chicken breasts (about 3 cups) sliced thin, against the grain (2" pieces)
1 Tb baking soda for tenderizing 
*Note - see below to tenderize chicken. This step is not essential, but believe me it only takes about 1 minute more to do this and it makes a huge difference. You won't believe how tender the chicken will be!

1-2 tbs avocado oil, coconut oil or any other oil 
1-2 cups white potatoes, peeled & cubed
½-¾ cups carrots, chopped
1-1½ cups onions, sliced
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1½ tbs yellow curry powder
1½ cups chicken broth
½-¾ cup fresh green peas (or frozen)
2/3 cup fresh or frozen green beans, cut in 1½" pieces (you can substitute fresh pea pods)
½ sweet red bell pepper OR green bell pepper, sliced or cut in 1" cubes
1 tsp soy sauce, tamarni or coconut aminos - (GF)
1-2 tsps white sugar
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp powdered ginger
1 -13.5 oz can coconut milk (full fat-not lite)
White pepper powder 
1 tb cornstarch + 1½ -2 tbs cold water mixed together for thickening at the end

Garnish for Top
Chopped green onions
Fresh mango, cut into small cubes 
*Note - you can put the mango on top or even mix it in with the other ingredients, right before serving, as I've seen in restaurants. Do not cook it.

*Cooked rice - my favorite is basmati (I put this on to cook first)

*To Tenderize the Chicken*
After slicing the chicken into thin pieces, place it in a bowl & add 1 Tb baking soda or cornstarch. Mix til coated. If you have some Chinese Shooshing wine, add about a tsp & mix it in. If you don't have it don't worry, it probably won't make any difference. Let this set for at least 15 mins while you cut up the vegetables. After that, rinse the chicken 2-3 times to remove the baking soda. If it's not rinsed you'll taste the baking soda!

Curry Chicken made with Coconut Milk and Mango as a Garnish

Heat oil on med hi in large frying pan or wok. Add rinsed chicken & saute till ½ done. Remove from pan & set aside. Add cubed potatoes & carrots to wok & saute while frying for 5 mins; add more oil if needed. Do not remove potatoes or carrots from pan. (We're just partially cooking them bc they will continue to cook with rest of ingredients). Add  onions, water chestnuts & curry powder; fry for 2-3 mins. Add chicken broth, ginger, garlic powder, soy sauce & sugar. Add fresh peas & green beans (if using) Put chicken back into pan. Heat for a few minutes. Turn heat down and add coconut milk; heat til chicken is done. Add red bell pepper & salt to taste. Add white pepper if you like a little heat. 

To thicken sauce, add the cornstarch slurry (1Tb cornstarch+1½Tb cold water mixed) & stir sauce til slightly thickened. Taste the sauce to see if you need to add more spices to your taste.

*Note* Some people might want to add the mango mixed into the dish, because I've had it that way in restaurants.

Serve over rice. You can add mango, green onions to top. Even peanuts or cashews would be good with this. I love it! 

*Note* If your family likes a lot of sauce, you can make more by doubling the following to the pan.
Double these amounts as you add the ingredients for the sauce: curry, chicken broth, soy sauce, white sugar, garlic powder, ginger, coconut milk. At the end of cooking, to thicken sauce, double the cornstarch slurry and add to the pan.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Crochet Stitch Pattern Books - My Favorites

Stitch pattern books are fabulous for designers or anyone wanting to become a designer. I have at least 20 stitch pattern books and I'll post pictures of my favorites & will add others later.

Tip for New Designers on Crochet Stitches

A new crochet stitch (such as the different sts in the books below), that you or someone else comes up with, cannot be copyrighted. Example of the kind of stitches I'm talking about would be double crochet, bobble st, pineapple st, shell st, cluster st, puff st, double treble st, etc. You get the point. Anyone can make any crochet item with any of the stitches in a books without infringing on copyrights. 
I'm not talking about a written crochet PATTERN, such as a top, skirt, dress scarf, etc Those are automatically copyrighted because you came up with the combination of stitches, the number of stitches on each row, the wording and directions of how to put it together, formed into a particular shape.
This should be obvious to everybody, but the copyright laws in other countries are different from the laws in America. Its mind boggling to me that those countries allow people to steal another person's pattern, copy it and call it their own, which takes away from the original designers profits.

I attended a 4 hour session, conducted by a lawyer specializing in needlework laws at a knit and crochet conference a few yrs ago. She gave us so much info that was very helpful.
But something I was very surprised about is that you can copy up to 40% of someone else's pattern! Probably what that means is that you CAN copy a particular shape. For instance, a flair/peplum on the bottom of a top, flared sleeves, V-neck as opposed to a round or square neck, ruffle, open shoulder, high waisted babydoll top, pockets on a sweater. I could go on and on, but I think you can understand what I'm saying. I also think it's ok to look at someone's schematics (drawing of the shape-like a skirt) with how many inches there are on each side-width and height. Like maybe you want to have an idea of how long you should make a shawl when you're designing your own pattern. But the big no no is that you can't copy their words of how they put the stitches together, how many rows, number of sts on each row, whether you increased or decreased, etc.

Some of My Crochet Stitch Pattern Books

This is my all time favorite stitch pattern book, by Linda Schapper. There are 500 different stitch patterns in it. I have the vintage version of this book in black and white and was so happy when I saw this reprint! She also has 2 other books, which are a book of edgings/borders and a book of 500 squares.  I have spent hours at a time looking through these books. If you've never seen one, you really need to check them out. They really come in handy and it will change your world!

Another great book. This was my first one! It's not as big as the one above, but it is still good and has a few stitch patterns that Linda Shapper's book does not have. It also contains a few edgings and motifs. 

I did not buy this book till I had been designing for 10 years and it is well worth purchasing. Rita Weis told me that Jean (in the crochet hall of fame, and now deceased), was so facinated with finding new and unusual stitch patterns from other countries, so there are many in this one I had not seen before. It's a great book!

This book also has some new and unususl stitch patterns I had not seen before. And if it's cable crochet stitches you're into, you'll love this book. It also contains some edgings/borders and some beautiful motif squares. I just wish the pictures of the stitches and diagrams were larger, because I can't see them very well, even with my bi-focals!

This book is Margaret Hubert's first granny square book. And yes, she has several more! Margaret is a sweetheart and she's very creative, which shows in this book. Can you guess my MAIN reason for loving this book? Its because I LOVE the colors she used! 

 Encyclopedia of Crochet, by Donna Kooler, was also one of my firsts. It is unique in that the first half of the book has crochet patterns for projects. Not only are there very pretty and well photographed stitch patterns, but it also has borders and motifs as well. There is a newer updated version published 2-3 yrs ago. I have that one too and will post it as well. 

I really like this Japanese stitch pattern book, but it would not appeal to everyone. It does not have written instructions in English, but does have stitch charts you can follow. Another plus is that it has many stitch pstterns I've never seen before. This is only one of many other Japanese books.

If you like the crochet shell pattern, you'll love this Shell stitch book by Darla Sims! It's fantastic for those of us who love any kind of shell or fan in crochet. Such a huge variety! 

If you do both knit and crochet, then this book, by Reader's Digest, is probably your best choice for  finding many unique patterns. Some of these patterns are exactly as some in the Harmony guides.

Another great book by Darla Sims. It's mostly open lace stitch patterns if that is what you are looking for. A great book!

I am a big fan of the Harmony Guides. This is # 7. These are not thick books but are full of stitch patterns. They have come out with an updated book that contains all their stitches together. I have that too and will post it.

Harmony Guide # 6 - a great book. These books also have edgings and motifs.

Here's my all time favorite crochet book of edgings by Linda Schapper. Such a huge variety. You won't be disappointed!

This is a much older book, probably from the 70's. I rarely use it because  thee are others I like better. I believe the stitches shown inside are all in black and white. I may have given this to a friend. 

This is a wonderful book by Sasha Kagen. I believe she's from the UK and I was privilaged to meet her at a TNNA conference in Columbus when this book was first released. There are several very pretty patterns for projects in the book too, but also many stitch patterns.

This is a much older booklet and it's both knit and crochet, but has some nice stitch patterns

This not only contains stitch patterns, but Jan Eaton included just about anything you want to know about crochet. This would be a great book for a new crocheter. It's colorful and just loaded with information! It would be a great book for a whole crochet class!

This one is much older snd doesnt have a whole lot in it. Stitch Patterns are in black and white.

This is a beautiful Border book by Edie Eckman. She has several others and I have those too. 

4 more beautiful books by 
Eddie Eckman!

Read this blog post about crochet pattern copyrights! Good piot!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder

I've eaten many different soup recipes in my lifetime and this recipe is one of the best I've ever tasted. I'm not even crazy about ham, but the ingredients in this soup make the most delicious, satisfying comfort food! I don't even remember where I got the original recipe, but I have changed it up a bit to make it even better. There are other chowder recipes out there that are quick to fix with adding canned soups and they are pretty good, but making this recipe from scratch makes your time worthwhile and your family will love it.

Cheesy Ham and Potato Chowder

1/2 lb. bacon (or 10-12 strips)                       pepper to taste
1 large onion, chopped                                 1 cup diced carrots
3 Tablespoons flour                                      1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes                          
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained or 1 can cream style corn
3 cups milk (Vitamin D, heavy cream or evaporated milk)
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
3 cups (12 oz) shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby or American. (I used half Velveeta and half Colby this time)
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham

In large soup pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. In the bacon drippings, saute onion and carrots until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add water. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn, bouillon and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or til potatoes are tender.Add milk, cheese and ham; heat til cheese is melted. Stir in crumbled bacon. YIELD: 10 servings
Note: I hadn't made this soup in years but tonight I didn't have whole kernel corn so I used the cream style corn. I also didn't have enough regular milk so that's why I used evaporated and the heavy whipping cream. The original recipe said to add the milk with the water and cook the potatoes, but I didn't want my soup to curdle from boiling it, so that's why I added the milk later. I didn't have enough water in the pot to boil the potatoes so I added about 4 more cups water and 4 more teaspoons of the bouillon. I also added more ham, potatoes and cheese! This soup is SO good!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Coconut Curry Thai Chicken or Shrimp Soup


My Version of Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp
and Chicken served over Rice

 This recipe came from Aicha, the co-founder of 100krecipes.com. Their goal is to create easy recipes that are also healthy. I LOVE this recipe, but the second time I made it, I did change some things to make it more for my taste. Click the link below for the original recipe, but below that is what I did differently to make it even better.


I made this Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp and Chicken for my daughter, Jamie and her family. My sister, DonnaGay, ate it too, when she was visiting me. Everyone loved it! I love it too!

I've made this type of soup before, but this is the very best recipe! I served it with rice. Just can't get enough of it!

Below are the things I I changed about the original recipe at 100k Recipes.

1. Instead of red curry paste I used about 2 Tb of powdered yellow curry (or more)

2. I added chicken with the shrimp

3. I added red sweet pepper the last 5 minutes. Make sure it's not too soft.

4. Added a little garlic powder

5. Only used 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger instead of 2.

6. Added chopped green onions on top of the soup in each individual bowl.

Next time I will:

1. Use coconut oil instead of olive oil

2. 3 cans of coconut milk (or cream) instead of just 2 cans


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Positively Crochet-Translated to Other Languages

 It's always exciting when I get an email from my publisher saying they are having one of my books printed in another language!

The first book, Positively Crochet!, has been translated into 2 different languages, I believe. I don't really even remember what these languages are but seems like it is Polish or Portuguese. Below is the first one. Do you know what language this is?

Positively Crochet! 
Mary Jane Hall

This is the same book,
Positively Crochet! By Mary Jane Hall
but I'm not sure what language this is either. Are they the same? 

Perfect Tuna Melt

This sandwich is absolutely one of the best things I've ever eaten. I love Tuna in just about any way and this is a quick and easy lunch that I crave! I recently fixed it for my sister and she couldn't stop saying, "This is one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth!" It's just that good! I copied this recipe from Sarah Titus Ministries. 

The Perfect Tuna Melt
Recipe from
Sarah Titus Ministries

This Tuna Melt might be different from any other you've had but this is the only recipe I've ever tried. I notice that other recipes are different from this. It might seem odd to put garlic with tuna, but please don't leave it out because that's what makes it so good. Also other recipes call for cheddar cheese, and even though I'm sure that's good, I love love love the mozzarella cheese on this! And make sure you toast the bread the way it says to do! You won't be sorry.


Monday, August 7, 2023

How To Make Money With Crochet

I have been a mentor for 4-5 crocheters who had dreams of making money with their original designs. These talented gals were published within a year. They each had tremendous talent and all I did was just steer them in the right direction and give them tips along the way. I've taught them about how to go about contacting a magazine or other book publisher to submit their designs. Also, most publishers who publish knit and crochet books for just 1 author (like me) also publish books on their own that will have a combination of designer's designs in one book, and this would be a good way to start. Contact them (a publisher you know does this) and ask to be put on their designer list  and you will get their email sending out a "Call for Submissions". Of course, it's better if you've already had something published in a  or other venue, such as selling your own designs on your blog or Ravelry.  I never had to ask any publishers to add my name to their list. They somehow found out about me (probably by seeing my crochet books or my designs in magazines). To this day I still get those emails with "Calls for Submissions." I don't answer every call because I don't have time to fill up my schedule with more designing, but occasionally I do answer the call and write up a proposal (with sketch, description, swatch, yarn suggestion, etc). I recently turned in 5 designs to a publisher in NYC who solicited my designs for a book full of designs by several different designers.

Crochet Calendar
There used to be a yearly Crochet A Day crochet calender that was always looking for designs to publish each year. Every year they needed 365 shorter patterns, but if someone submitted a pattern like an Afghan or top that required more space they would dedicate 2-3 pages/days for that. 

hen I hadn't been designing very long and had just a few designs in magazines, I submitted some small designs for the calender just to mainly get my name out there. You could send them your own picture of the design or they would take a picture of it for you to be in the calender. The calender did not pay for you to have your design in it, but the reason I or anyone else would do this without pay is to get exposure. They always put your name and other info such as your website or blog with your pattern. Another good thing about not being paid is that YOU still own the design! Therefore, after the calender has been published you can do whatever you want with your pattern. You can sell it on your blog, website or social media sites who allow that. Oh, and of course they send you a free calender! The calender also choose the design they thought was the best and that person won $1,000 for being the best design for that year! One of the designers I mentored, Natalia of Outstanding Crochet, won the $1,000 prize! I was so happy for her! In my opinion, she's is one of these best crochet designers out there, but she makes her money mostly by selling her own patterns on Etsy and other places. She is very very successful and I am so happy for her!

I believe I had designs published in 6-7 of the "Crochet A Day" calendars, but I don't believe they are still around. Someone needs to start publishing another crochet calendar, because I think it was a good thing!

Make A Living with Crochet?
Then there are others who contact me wanting to know if they can make a living with crochet. I tell them that yes, it is possible, but you really have to be dedicated and have a passion for what you do. Some people get paid to teach crochet in a chain store such as Michael's or Hobby Lobby, while others may teach at a LYS (local yarn shop). You can do this if you are a professional designer, or if you are just someone who is experienced and love to crochet. You usually don't need any credentials to teach at these places. 
As soon as you get paid to have a design published in a book or magazine, you are considered a professional, as with any craft or skill you have. When my siblings and I started getting paid to sing at different places (when I was 14 & the others were 10, 13 and 16)), they told us we were considered professional. 
If you want to be known in the crochet design industry as a professional, you can join CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) and they will give you the label of Professional as long as you have met the criteria. For more info on that, go to their website here where you can find all kinds of info on the subject. You'll also learn about conferences, and many subjects about what is going on in the world of crochet. 
Some professional designers who make money by having their designs bought by a magazine or publisher, also make money by traveling around the country teaching classes at local CGOA or speaking at retreats, workshops and conferences. I have done this several times in my designing career, but I would not want to travel all the time like some do. Of course it all depends on whether or not you have a family and how much you are willing to be away from them. Usually the people who get asked to speak at conferences or retreats have a specialty. By this, I mean that some are known for Tunisian Crochet, Freeform, Lace, Afghans, Hairpin Lace, Broomstick Lace, Bruges, or some other technique people are interested in learning. I have been asked to teach on my signature Graduated Stitch Method of making shaped garments without having to use increases or decreases. This is a method I came up with when I was writing my book, Crochet That Fits. A passion and priority with me is to make crochet as easy as possible. So with this method, people who have only made Afghans, scarves or washcloths all their lives are now making garments. They're so excited, but I'm here to tell you, it's so easy. If you are a beginner, you can be making garments in no time. The book was voted "Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008", due to this new easy method of making garments. My crochet books have also been published in other languages and that is very exciting!
If you come up with a new idea you should consider submitting a book proposal to a publisher. I have other posts on this with more detail. Publishers are always looking for new ideas. This is the main way I make a living at crochet, which is from my book royalties.
So whatever genre you like to work with, you can become a specialist in that and be known for it. You may soon be known for this and will be asked to come teach others.
I've also given talks on "How to Get Your Designs Published" or "How to go About Writing a Crochet Book." (See my other posts).

Other ways of making money with your crochet would be to become a Pattern Tester or a Contract Crocheter.
 These are actual job titles if someone is looking to make money with their crochet. 

Pattern Tester
Whether a designer is planning to sell their patterns on their blog, Ravelry or other sites, they are usually looking for someone they can trust who will test their pattern before going to print or being published. In my case, since the majority of my patterns have been published in books or magazines, I too, have my written patterns tested, before sending them off to the publisher, even though they do not require this of us. I want to make absolutely sure my pattrns can be understood and they are error free BEFORE going to the tech editor! I have another blog post on Pattern Tesing here if you want more info on the subject.

Contract Crocheter
Most designers prefer to stitch up their own designs, but occasionally we need to hire someone to get it finished before our deadline, especially if we are working on other designs ourselves. I had to hire some other professional crochet designer friends to stitch up about 4 of my designs that were going in my book, Colorful Crochet Lace. It was mainly because I got behind when I stayed with my sister in the hospital for 15 days  when she had a heart attack. I tried but could not keep my mind on designing crochet! 

Chain Link Conference (Knit and Crochet Show)
There are many ways to get your name put on a list of Contract Crocheters and Pattern Testers, by looking online. Those groups would be Ravelry, Crochetville, Facebook, through word of mouth or by searching on the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) website. 
We also have a yearly conference called The Knit and Crochet Show where we network with others and get information on who needs a Contract Crocheter or Pattern Tester. Another name for this is the Chain Link Conference, which is what most people call it. 

Selling Your Own Patterns or Selling Projects you Make
Like I said above, you can make money by selling your own patterns on sites such as Ravelry, Etsy, EBay or social media sites. If you have a good design that's very popular, it's possible that you can make even more money doing that than you can by selling that one design to a magazine! I'm very serious about that! The best thing to do, is to do some research. This is what I did when I think I want to send a book proposal to a publisher. Find out what kind of crochet items are in demand but you can't find a pattern for those things. A pattern will always sell when that particular item can not be found anywhere. Doesn't this make sense? I think that's one reason all my books have been top sellers. I came up with things that were different and not just like everybody else's crochet patterns.
 Another thing I did was to look at as many runway shows as I could whether they were a New York or Paris runway show. You can always get ideas from high fashion designers, but keep in mind the designs in a current runway show may not catch on with the public for anywhere from 2-6 years! That's the truth! I had several designs in my books that were published but they became really even more popular a few years later and are still to this day in style. There are also fashion magazines that most of the public do not even know about, that are meant for designers. They were very very expensive and I could not afford to buy those. I think they were around $70-$100 each, (called either Runway Magazine or Look Book) but I found some on eBay that were not too old. If I can find those magazines, I'll come back and tell what they are here. Since they are about 4 or more years ahead, it's worth having those books. But I also subscribed to several other fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Allure, In Style and others. These magazines can inspire you in designing your own projects.

There are other ways you can make money crocheting, but I'll let that be another post later.