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!