Friday, November 27, 2009

Two easy after Thanksgiving foods

After cooking the feast and eating leftovers for a day or so I'm ready to move on in the world of food. Since I am totally enamored of Jamie Oliver I've been getting his mag from the UK ($65/year - sort of a surprise when I added it to my cart. I was aware of the general exchange rate, but not the specifics). So, I've got the pile of them on my desk right now and each one has a fold out section of recipes for the month. Typically quicker than the ones in the main part of the magazine and I've had a little rash of making them this week.

Since I already have a scale (which I bought for weighing WOOL) and the recipes are mostly in metric weights, it's easier to weigh everything out before cooking. Kind of like you're supposed to do it, heh. For dinner I made a double batch of Chorizo & Butter Bean Stew

1/2 lb sliced chorizo
2 red onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp smoked paprike
14.5 oz can of butter beans
14.5 oz can tomatoes

Cook chorizo, red onions, and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp paprika, tomatoes, and beans, then cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread.

Chorizo & white bean stew

The double batch will be nice for lunches this week!

Then, for tomorrow when I get the peeps back, I made Lemon & Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat 1 1/4 cup sugar with 3 eggs until light. Add 1 3/4 cup self-rising flour, 14 T melted butter (almost two sticks), grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 T poppy seeds. Mix batter until smooth. Spoon batter into a buttered and floured 8" cake pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool, then split in half horizontally. Whisk 6 oz double cream with 2 T powdered sugar to soft peaks. Spread thickly over the bottom half of the cake. Mix a scant cup of powdered sugar with the juice of 1/2 lemon, and slice the other lemon half very thinly. Place the top half of cake on the cream, spread with icing, top with lemon slices and finish with a scattering of poppy seeds.

I haven't tasted all three bits together yet, but they were each damn good separate!

I'm dog sitting until Sunday - Eowyn is pleased, she loves Mac. Yesterday afternoon I couldn't find them and then when I was putting laundry away I found them on Chicky's bed. Happy dogs. I wonder if they'll leave any room for her tomorrow night?


The back of the Arwen sweater is finished and I'm finally on to the left side. I'm done with the hem and have increased for the cabled edge. I've only done two sets of the cable repeats, but the pattern is emerging - yea.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You can't go back

My man and I like music... a lot. Last week while he was on a long drive he heard that the Steve Miller Band would be coming to Durham. Now I love 70's music and could sing "The Joker" and "Big Old Jet Airliner" for you, but I won't. My man was excited; he loved them while he was in college and so I said ok, let's go. I had more than a small feeling it wasn't going to be great because a.) the band hasn't released an album in a very long time and b.) once they played their five hits, how exciting could it be? Bob Dylan? STILL puts out albums and plays old and new stuff whenever he tours. Willie Nelson? Same thing, only Willie has some Vegas cheese moves - he winks and points at people while he plays - I never would have guessed, he looks so mellow and all. Anyhoo, after a long workday we headed out to the Piedmont Restaurant where I had some fresh tagliatelle with rag├╣ bolognese & parmesan and my man had choucroute garnie: housemade sauerkraut, potatoes, boudin blanc, pork belly, smoked pork loin & mustard jus. Both were very good but we were kind of hurried since we needed to get to the show at 8 pm. I will say that starting a concert at 8 pm on a Friday night without any opening band makes me feel old. I appreciated it, but I'll tell you why in a minute.

We had seats in the third level balcony (a.k.a. The Jane Fonda Workout Section - you wouldn't believe the burn!). The crowd was multi-generational, as they say nowadays, there were some high school kids mixed in with the predominantly 50 and 60 year old crowd. I only saw two people I knew in the entire crowd: my old vet (before we moved to Hillsborough) and a bag guy from the Food Lion by my house. For me, at an event in Durham that is rare. The Steve Miller Band came out and the crowd at the DPAC was standing up and screaming for joy. I was not. One guy, the back-up singer danced the whole time (he's almost 70 and he's got some moves, but that is not cool for rock. KC & the Sunshine Band? Definitely. Steve Miller Band? Not so much) and the band had no passion for the music. They were definitely going through the motions. We left after six songs. It was nice that since the band went on early, we could come home watch some tv and get to bed at a decent hour! Heh.

For today's fun, raking one of the many layers of leaves of the season. I have two fairly willing helpers and one that is purposely not helping in hopes I will let him out of the job. He is sorely mistaken.

Here's the fun we're having:

peeps rake


The leafy hell is over for now. I've not got the chutzpah for flogging the peeps and doing the backyard - which is twice the size of the front.

I was inspired to make pork empanadas with thyme from Everyday Food. It was good, but dry. I didn't add the raisins because I figured the peeps would be less likely to eat the finished product if they knew they were in there (and they would ask believe me. They were all over the pine nuts, "What is this?"). I used fresh sage and thyme from the garden in the dough and filling as the recipe instructs and the peeps liked them.

In knitting news I'm working on the Mushroom Hat which is large enough to accommodate a bun. I have long hair that I usually wear up and I love wearing hats, but it's an issue. This hat will hopefully solve that. I'm using some yarn I dyed a long time ago and it is dyed in colors I wouldn't normally choose for myself. If I end up not liking it Chicky can have it.

I'm headed to DC for the National Association of Young Children conference this Wednesday, so I should be able to get lots of knitting done while I'm sitting in sessions. The line-up is not very exciting, many people I look forward to seeing when I go aren't presenting this year. I've got multiple classes high-lighted for each time slot in case they're full (or suck). I sit in the back so as not to disturb people if I leave. The number of people there tends to overwhelm me a bit, so I'm planning on reading and relaxing in my hotel room at night. I've got a book, a couple knitting projects and my iPod ready to go.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A brief respite...

Last year, sixth grade was a HUGE transition for our family. There was suddenly daily homework, band, and constant assessments going on at school. Seventh grade has, so far, been the same but more pleasant for the boys because they are now allowed to participate in school sports. They made the soccer team for fall. The boys liked having a couple hours of physical activity four days a week. Sure, it was harder to fit homework and practicing instruments into the shortened evenings, but it was worth it. Soccer season just ended and the boys are sad they have to ride the bus home and lug their instruments up the hill every day. This Friday, try-outs start for the winter season sports. Bowen wants to try-out for basketball and Morgan for ultimate frisbee. We'll see how it goes. My only hope is that if they make it their practice times are similar.

In knitting news, there's been the finishing of another sweater! The Scoop Pullover by Cathy Carron is finished. By the end of the process, I was pretty tired of the ribbing bit. I used Ashland Bay Klickitat which I purchased from Paradise Fibers. When I was finished I dyed it - for future reference - not the best idea since it didn't dye evenly. I feared this might be the case, but it was worse than I thought and I ended up re-dying it. Thankfully, my long locks hide the worst of it on the back.

scoop pullover

I do like the end color and the fit. My only complaint is (and I have this with other ribbed sweaters, but somehow I thought if I knit it myself it wouldn't happen) that by the end of the day the rib has lost a bit of it's elasticity and doesn't look or fit as well as it does after it's freshly laundered. I really am not fond of a sweater I have to wash every single time I wear it. So, I've only worn it once. Maybe it will end up being a Special Occasion Sweater.

Currently on the needles, the beautifulArwen by Kate Gilbert. I'm using Plymouth Yarn Galway Worsted - I can't afford the softer stuff right now. The pattern looks a bit tedious, and the plain back is rather a bore, but I'm chugging along. Only nine more inches until I can work on the right or left side.

Lately, I've been opting for reading before going to bed instead of knitting. Work has been pretty tiring and sometimes I fall asleep while I'm reading and the next night I have to go back a page or so before any of the story looks familiar. You might think I should just go straight for the sleeping bit, but my brain doesn't seem to work that way. I have to get it all distracted and focused on something other than the one thousand things I worry about every night before The Sandman comes anywhere near me. I'm hoping the time change will help with that tonight!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You're hat looks like...

I usually wear a black, wide brimmed hat when it rains because one of my biggest pet peeves is rain on my glasses lenses. Rain on the inside of the lenses is the worst. I have to take the time to not only clean the rain off, but search through my purse/African market basket to find the expensive little glasses cleaner cloth tucked neatly into it's pouch. The cloth works really well, but finding it is a huge undertaking. Besides, I love a hat.

My hat has seen better days. I've machine washed it one too many times and the floppy, but posable brim is now only floppy. My new rain hat is my cow girl hat, which I also love but seldom wear. It rained a couple days this week so I've actually been seen wearing it. Today when I was leaving work one of the parents said, "That hat looks like the one that old country singer that was on heroin used to wear." And I said, "Which one? There are so many, but Steve Earle is my personal favorite." The parent thought for a moment, "This is a woman." I took a stab, "Lucinda Williams?" "Yes!" Honestly, I can say that Lucinda looks road worn, for sure, but mid-50s is not my idea of old. Of course, I'm a decade closer that this man was so maybe that's the reason I've been thinking about it.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And then, six months later...

What can I say? Life has been happening at it's regular pace and I have stopped dyeing, and really stopped knitting for quite a while. The interesting part is I've been hanging out with my man more, playing golf (I had no idea I even liked golf, let alone would show some aptitude for it), working in the garden, and getting some much needed storage for my house. Now... finally... I'm knitting again!

The cooler temperatures have been bringing out my need to cook all day at least one day on the weekend. This past weekend it was making plum butter and roasting a pumpkin for pie (the pie happened yesterday, after the chili). I have been reminded by friends and family alike that it has been a long time since I made spinach calzones, so that may be this weekend's work.

For the knitting bits, I've really only knit two things recently. The first is the One Skein Shawl by Clara Parkes. The yarn was dyed and spun by the sweet and talented Sarah. It is hanging out on one of my furniture/storage finds - an old, but not completely original Hoosier cabinet.

one skein shawl

My second knit is the popular Whisper Cardi by Hannah Fettig. There's a reason it is so popular; it is light, stylish, and beautiful. I used the Morehouse Farm Merino Lace the pattern called for and it was a pleasure to knit. The pictures of the sweater are good, but excuse my harried look. Some days are long.

whisper cardi

The back is the best part of the whole sweater (please excuse the hair and the crooked seam on my ass).

whisper cardi

I'm toying with the idea of making it again in a worsted weight. Right now I'm working on the Scoop pullover by Cathy Carron. I'm using an undyed worsted weight that I am going to dye when finished. I can't believe I'm doing it that way either, but that's how I'm rolling on this project.

I just got my Fiber Share from Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm. I thought I asked for a spinner's share, but it's probably just as well I didn't get one as I haven't been spinning either. I have another sweater project in mind for it.

Usually, by this time of year I'm well on the way of churning out knitting for the holidays. Only family members are getting any hand knit love this year. I'm going back to baking for friends and extended family - I enjoy doing that as well, and I think they might like receiving edible gifts more! This year may be a cookie basket, I have to start digging through recipes.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No new loom... yet

My loom that I ordered on March 23 (not that I'm keeping track) is backordered. Sigh. It was a good thing I went ahead and loaded up the loom for another project. See how even the selvedges are? Yep, this is the END of the scarf. For the previous two-thirds of the scarf, it didn't look good at all.


To illustrate very clearly, here is a photo of both ends.


The final measurements end up being 3 1/4" x 79". I was very careful when I had to reload my shuttle, but somehow the stripes were altered. It is a hand painted yarn, so that could account for the variation, but I spent quite a while trying to figure it out and fix it to no avail. Still working that learning curve!

It has rained here so much I'm beginning to grow webs between my toes. Things are blooming and it is a nice contrast between the blooms and the dark gray sky but I'm desperate for some sunshine. Cloudy days are fine for photography, so the dog and I went for a walk at Ayr Mount last weekend. No one else was there (I like that) but it is hard trying to take pictures while holding the dog's leash somewhere out of the way or having the dog lurch at some good smell while I'm mashing the shutter button. Despite the technical difficulties, I had fun.


Saw beaver handiwork at the edge of the trail.


New growth in the cemetary.


And a relatively new tree scar.


The baby cape is almost finished - I'm on the hood! I'm making myself finish it before I cast on for the Whisper Cardigan. I bought the yarn almost immediately after I got the magazine. It's not often I buy the exact yarn in the pattern, but it looks so scrumptious and lightweight, I knew I had to do it. Can't wait to wind those skeins!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New fiber addiction

One day a very long time ago, a co-worker was cleaning out the storage room at work and pulled out a box that contained a table loom destined for the curb. I claimed it and it has sat in whatever houses I've inhabited for almost twenty years. I've gotten it out a couple of times and tried to decipher the directions, but they are very sparse. Goggleing the model and loom didn't turn up any help either. Lately, the weaving bug has been buzzing in my ear and I've been looking at rigid heddle looms. I wold love a floor loom, but my house is small (and so is my budget).

In the midst of this I bought Chicky a loom for her birthday. It came with very clear directions and an impressive project book.She loves it and has made her first scarf. She wants to make a hoodie next.


Reading her instruction manual made me think that perhaps I could get that old loom out of the attic and manage to figure it out. I did! Here it is without the 10 dent heddle attached yet.

old loom

My first project didn't turn out so well. My selvedges SUCK and the weave is too open. I used linen for the warp and some of my early handspun (romney) for the weft. I only handwashed it and I've since read a good go through the washing machine might tighten things up a bit.


Since warping the loom is a two person job, I went ahead and decided on my next project while the peeps were here to help. It's going to be a scarf with Opal sock yarn as the warp and Fiesta Boomerang as the weft. My left selvedges look good, the right have not been so great, but now that I'm over halfway through look much better. I hate the learning curve sometimes.
I did order a 32" Kromski Harp and the book Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Linn Davenport. The loom is backordered and I'm trying to be calm and patient until it gets here. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about placemats...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Back from the edge of the planet

Nope, I didn't fall off the planet. I was worried for a while, right before Christmas when I thought I might, but it didn't happen.

I woke up to about four inches of snow this morning. Eowyn woke me up at 5:30 am absolutely determined to go outside. I made her wait about half an hour because she has this evil habit of barking - sometimes it's a cat or a squirrel, but most of the time I have no idea why and it bugs the shit out of me. I had a hard time finding her lead under the snow and she made herself all heavy when she thought I was trying to take her back inside (I just needed to scrape my boots in another direction a bit to look for the tie-out, but she didn't understand my explanation). Since I was already up, I had my coffee and made my grocery list for Tres Leches cake. My co-workers have put up with listening to me whine about my desire to make this cake for a few weeks now. I try not to bake if I don't have a reason to do so, it's an expensive habit in money and calories! My excuse today: my birthday was Friday, but my children were (and still are, thanks to the snow) at their dad's house and we didn't get a chance to celebrate.

By the time I had all the ingredients at room temperature it was time for a spot of tea. According to my web research, Tres Leches is best if it has at least the night to set in the fridge. Basically it's a sponge cake soaked in three milks: heavy cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, and then frosted with a vanilla cream frosting. YUM!

snow day stuff

Saturday I used my new birthday present and made some of Jamie Oliver's English Onion Soup from the Jamie at Home cookbook. LOVE. THE. DUTCH. OVEN. It and I are going to be best friends, I can tell already.

birthday present

Then, because I made some last weekend (and the peeps liked it for breakfast) I made another batch of Aunt Melissa's Granola from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I add all kinds of dried fruit to it and I like it because it's not overly sweet. One batch fills my old blue Ball Perfect Mason jar and seems to be just enough for a week.

this week's granola

Other than cooking, which really has been happening a lot, I'm working on Daphne's Baby Cape (rav link) and the comments posted about the yarn requirements being waaaaaay off are quite correct. I'm on the third skein (pattern calls for three) and I'm less than halfway done. The baby I'm making it for was born this past Wednesday and the rows are over 200 stitches; it's kind of a garter stitch slog at this point. I haven't been watching much TV and I haven't figured out Elizabeth Zimmerman's trick of reading and knitting (other than patterns) at the same time so the knitting has suffered.

I did give in and read the Twilight series. My interest waned, however, when it got weighed down in a lack of character development. There were several loopholes that really pissed me off, but I digress. Since I was all in a dither when I was done I had to go back and re-read my favorite vampire book Sunshine. Much more how vampires are supposed to behave, thankyouverymuch. I have a PILE of books next to my bed and I decided to go light and funny next. Dennis Leary fits the bill. After that the old bedside reading gets heavier.

Plans for the rest of the day? Watch some DVR'd shows and knit - the cape awaits!