Friday, December 24, 2010

Hairy Slippers


Stocking #2 out of 3, progress shot. I'm 95% done with the 3rd one, racing Santa.

I should be cooking my face off in prep for Christmas dinner, but instead I'm cruising the interwebs looking at knitting stuff. Take a look at these Tom Scott slippers. They are alpaca and have a crocheted sole and garter stitch upper...not exactly difficult crafting there. They are $188. That's right, $188.

By that reckoning the girls owe me $1200 at least for each of their stockings but I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heart Knitting Chart



I'm working on the last of three stockings and I thought I'd share this chart with you. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Punctuated



I have a new pattern for sale on Ravelry! It's a very fast knit - start now and finish in time for the holidays!



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Puttin' Up With Frank


How lucky am I?  Turns out my cousin Frank, who's quite the foodie, has been making his own preserves and sending them my way from his 'hood back east.  The first batch (savory - including the most amazing Caponata Siciliana) he sent arrived on the day I was having the girls' farewell-gone-to-college dinner and it flew into the hands of my sisters and nieces so fast I didn't get any pictures.



This batch (sweet - peach, nectarine and plum jams) arrived a couple of days ago and the weather finally cooperated enough for me to capture all its glory on film.  Now I ask you...should I share this bounty?  Maybe only with the sisters and nieces who read my blog - the rest won't know any better.

They're like little jewels, no?

I plan on using some of it for a jam tart, one of John's favorites. Perhaps that glorious peach.


Friday, August 06, 2010

A Night Out, a Morning In

My table companions tried to convince me that was shooter of some kind, but it's vinaigrette.

The other night John and I attended a gala fundraiser for the Old Globe, one of San Diego's several fabulous theater companies.  The Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse are probably the most widely known, and they're two of the reasons this is such a great town to live in, along with fish tacos and the weather (notwithstanding the sucky summer of 2010).  But if you live here, there are lots and lots of opportunities to see interesting live productions all over the county.

Delicious roasted duck breast with berry sauce and a ravioli I gave to John


Along with the usual silent auction, the gala featured a showing of Robin and the 7 Hoods, followed by dinner and dancing (or if you're me, followed by dinner and the vague shuffling around that comes from being up way past my bedtime - it's kind of a long night) outside under the stars.
That mysterious object is an almond crisp over strawberry shortcake with ice cream.
There were also fabulous mini strawberry ice cream sandwiches but they went so fast I didn't get a photo!


You wanted to see what they served, right?  Luckily, I had my iPhone to capture these quality shots.  I wish I could show you how they light up the Museum of Man tower next door - it's really cool - but I'm already stretching the capability of my phone with these.

Um...I'm pretty sure I brushed my hair before we went, but I do look like I'm up past my bedtime.

And while I'm showing you food, here's a batch of brioche from the following day.  Fiona learned Dorie's method for the dough, and I baked these off the next morning so she could sleep in during the final rise.  That's right, I'm the BEST mom, kids.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Red Gaenor



Here's something I've had off the needles for quite some time but only recently had time (and the proper weather) to block.  It's a little shawlette; the pattern is called Gaenor and the yarn is Aspen Sock by Red Rocks Fiber Works.  The yarn is fantastic - the colors are gorgeous and it's sproingy and delicious as only yarn can be.


Along with mittens, shawlettes are my knitting love du jour, because they're more interesting than scarves and yet can be worn in the same way, wrapped around the neck.  My Ravelry queue is full of them.


The other thing I've been doing lately is tinkering with my blog design a little bit.  Since I'm a graphic designer, you'd think I'd be busily designing myself a beautiful website, but it's one of those cobbler's children things...designing for myself is the last thing I ever feel like doing, so instead I've updated to the latest version of Blogger and it's driving me crazy.  In the process, it lost the link to Google Analytics (took me several days to figure that one out) and while I appreciate the pushbutton nature of Blogger, I'm starting to think about alternatives.  If you all have a recommendation, let me know.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainbow Fiddlehead Mittens 1


In preparation for the girls' departure for Boulder, I'm knitting mittens as fast as I can.  I love mittens.  They're fun to knit, completely portable, and I can indulge my love of wild colors without ending up looking like a clown hooker.


These are Fiddleheads in gray Ultra Alpaca and Noro Kureyon; I'm knitting them tip-to-cuff on two circular needles.  I cast on yesterday afternoon and I just popped that sore thumb onto the first one so I'm on fire, baby.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pie, Pie, Pie

Peach Pie


As promised, today we're talking about pie.  Earlier this week I read about this life-changing crust method over at Chez Pim and had to give it a try.  Pie crust is one of those things for me...it's touchy.  I can make perfect crust one day and the very same recipe will flop the next time I try it.  I know, I know - it all depends on the humidity, the temperature of the water/the butter/your hands/your kitchen, the earth's position with respect to various far-flung stars, whatever.  The point is, it's not to be trusted.

Blueberry Pie

Enter this completely heretical recipe (Yes, I'm still watching The Tudors.) calling for salted butter and manhandling of the dough.  Since I often inadvertently manhandle the dough anyway, I figured I'd try it.  Less than a week and two pies and a quiche later, I'm sold.  I love it.  It's easy to work with, it's flaky, it's buttery, it crisps nicely on the bottom, and it worked all three times in a row.  I don't want to jinx it, but I think this is now my go-to crust for pies both savory and sweet.


Bacon & Egg Quiche

Blueberry Pie

5 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if the berries are on the tart side)
5 T cornstarch
1 t cinnamon
1 T unsalted butter
splash of lemon juice

One beaten egg for washing the crust if you want, and some raw sugar if you'd like to sprinkle that on the crust as well.

Crust for double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 425F and line a deep-dish pie mold with bottom crust, pricking a few times with a fork.  

Make sure berries don't have twiggy bits and put them in a largish bowl.  Whisk together dry ingredients and add them to the berries, turning over gently with a spatula to coat.  Add a a teeny splash of lemon juice as you turn them over.

Pour the berry mixture into the prepared bottom crust and top with a lattice crust, or just slap the top crust on and cut a few vents in it.  Crimp the edges and brush with the egg wash to give it some shine; you can sprinkle some raw sugar on it too as I did with the peach pie above.  

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the crust is brown and the berries have thickened.  If the berries still look liquidy when your crust is brown, top the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for a bit longer. The berries will be bubbling and thick when the pie is done.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Lose Your Head Over Mittens


I apologize in advance to all of you who froze through an unforgiving winter and are now sweltering through a humid, boggy summer and are reading this in disbelief at the temerity I'm about to exhibit, but I must now complain about the weather. Today is July 21 and I am in long sleeves, staring out the window at yet another gray and somewhat drizzly day in La Jolla - another in the long string of gray and drizzly days we've experienced since early June. Last week the sun came out for two days and people danced in the streets, only to be disappointed and resigned in their aspect when our 48-hour summer slammed to a foggy close.



It's been so chilly (don't laugh - our blood is thin, people!) I've been baking pies all week (more on that tomorrow) and today I'm seriously considering lighting the fireplace. It's been so chilly I've actually been knitting heavy woolen things and been grateful for their warm weight in my lap. It's been so chilly I think the girls are looking forward to leaving for Colorado to warm up.



These mittens are last week's project, in colors inspired by season one of The Tudors, which I've been watching on Netflix (and which, by the way, I found somewhat slow for the first few episodes and then wham! people started dropping like flies and Henry started looking really scary and now I can't stop watching...the betrayals! The beheadings! I'm a little disturbed imagining the personal hygiene issues they must've encountered, too.). They're from  Magnificent Mittens and I knit them up in some soft and warm Ultra Alpaca for Fiona to take to Boulder with her.  I love the patterns in this book and I'm already planning a few more pairs; I'm also planning to use the "toe-up" technique on other mittens as often as possible, because I really like the custom fit you can achieve this way. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

From Your Wayward Blogger

Here we are, Mr. & Mrs. Windansea and Daughters

In case you were wondering where I've been for several months, I've been right here, but with so many family obligations and other complications that I haven't been able to sit down and write. Since last we spoke:


Senior Recognition for National Charity League, May 2010

  • My mother fell and broke a vertebra (she's better from that now, thanks)
  • Anna graduated, was presented at National Charity League, and subsequently double-pierced her ears and streaked her hair blue
  • Mary graduated from 6th grade
  • I gained ten pounds from all the celebrations and lack of time at the gym (but not to worry, I'm peeling those off one sun salutation at a time and will be back to fighting weight soon)



I remember when blue hair meant you were elderly....

Now we're dealing with something else altogether. In life, there are ups and downs, and thank goodness things in my life tend to balance out - when something goes to hell in a handbasket, something else is usually doing pretty well. Right now, I'm very happy that both my older daughters will be at the same college next year. Anna is going to CU Boulder as a Fine Art major, and Fiona has transferred there from Bennington because she changed her major to geology, and it just made more sense. I love Boulder, so I'm really happy I'll get to visit them in such a great place with the added bonus of a short, direct flight. And they'll have breaks at the same time - it's a miracle!

The handbasket contains my mom's health. This week we received a confirmed diagnosis of lymphoma, and she will be starting chemo in a few days. They think it's one of the indolent kinds of NHL that may have been laying low for quite a while, but it's now reared its ugly head and is causing all kinds of problems. She's 88 but she's in pretty good shape so we're very encouraged by the prognosis, but still. Cancer sucks.

My mom with Fiona, May 2010. We all hope to look this good at 88!

I've bowed out of several of my community obligations to make room in the schedule for my mom's treatment, and this last week I went through a lot of my yarn and knitting projects to get everything organized for the waiting rooms. I've got all sorts of stuff to photograph for you, so stay tuned for that.

As always, thanks for the well wishes, my internet friends. I know you're out there, and I appreciate you all.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Thumbprints for Us Big Guys



I know, they look like little fried eggs, no? They're actually delicious, melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut cookies with lemon curd filling without one bit of egginess - they don't even have egg in the dough! These were the TWD pick for this week from Mike of Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude, and they came in very handy because I volunteered to provide baked goods for someone on Monday morning and then promptly forgot and went out of town instead. Sunday afternoon found me watching the Oscars and scraping the skins off hazelnuts whilst discovering I was out of raspberry jam.



It was lucky that I almost always have raw hazelnuts in the pantry for just such emergencies and I always have lots of lemons, so at least I could bake something - and with all those lemons, lemon curd it was. The recipe made about five dozen cookies and I sent four dozen off to make other people happy. The remaining two dozen stayed behind to make my husband happy, which I think he deserves at least once a week so it's a good thing there's TWD.



Back to the Oscars. By the time all was said and done, I'd managed to watch just a couple more of the nominees, but even so, it was so much more interesting because I knew what the hoopla was about. I now have a Netflix queue full of even more movies and last night I watched the nominated animated shorts, because they always look so interesting to me. I loved La Dama y La Muerte and Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty. And if you're interested, there was a link online to Logorama, the winner, here. Logorama turned out to be not at all what I was expecting.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart


Sometimes a hectic schedule pays off. Between fighting a cold all week and dealing with everyday life, by yesterday evening it was looking like I wasn't going to have time to make a tart this week. My solution was to make only half of the TWD recipe for Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart - the custard half. I was going to just make coconut custard and be done with it, but in reading over the recipe I had a brilliant idea: Didn't this recipe look a lot like an ice cream base? Leaving out the corn starch, I let the custard cool overnight in the fridge and then popped it into my ice cream maker this afternoon, making THE best coconut ice cream, which I strongly considered not telling my family about so I could eat it all myself. They don't always get around to reading the blog for days, so hey, that's what they get.




So while my ice cream was getting a little harder in the freezer, I set off to run errands this afternoon before picking Anna up and heading over to Whole Foods for our dinner ingredients. I think I've probably mentioned that I spend half my life driving and the other half waiting for someone, right? And that I hate driving, and that I get bored easily? Because of this, I always keep a good selection of audiobooks on hand at all times along with a bit of portable knitting. There I sat, waiting for Anna, knitting and listening to Outlander via the car stereo, when she finally arrived and I turned the key in the ignition. Click. You know that sound? The sound of no battery? It sucks. Thank goodness I have Triple A and the guy was there within 15 minutes to give me a jump, but it was just enough aggravation to make me order pizza for dinner.

And here's the upside to that little aggravation: Because I wasn't making dinner, I had time to bake shortbread instead. I made a very basic recipe and added a little coconut extract and let it bake while I waited for Mr. Pizza Guy to get to my house, and then I served my family a very nice little dessert. We all loved it, but two of us liked the shortbread best and two of us liked the ice cream best. The ice cream was really good - the rum and the cardamom gave it a wonderful perfume and the toasted coconut rounded out the flavor of what was basically a rich vanilla custard - fantastic.


I like coconut a lot; in fact, I order cases of coconut water from Amazon (didja know you could do that?) and drink it after I work out instead of one of the many sports drinks that line the grocery aisles. It's very refreshing. I make a pretty darn good coconut cake, too, universally loved by all who taste it, even the coco-haters. There was no way I was going to miss this week's TWD entirely, that's for sure, and I'm glad I gave it a whirl. Thank you Beryl of Cinemon Girl for this week's pick. One day I may even try it as a tart!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Camera

These mushrooms came in my CSA bag this week.

This post is just to see how my new camera is behaving. I decided to get one of those little Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot jobbies so I will never again miss a photo op (friends, you've been forewarned). My big camera, a Canon eos Digital Rebel, is fantastic and has a big ol' flash and a couple of lenses, but it's heavy and kind of a pain to take out easily. My iphone is pretty great in a pinch, but there's no flash. I thought the Coolpix S570 might be a good compromise: it has a rechargeable battery and built-in flash, and when you turn it off it collapses the lens into no space at all. And the price is right. Here are a couple of photos I took right after I turned it on for the first time. Not bad....



Does it look like an olive in the middle of this banana bread? It's actually a chopped-up date!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Honey Wheat Cookies



On the heels of being completely grossed out by my discovery of chicken rings, I just finished watching Food Inc. and reading both In Defense of Food and Food Rules. While In Defense of Food reinforced my belief that my grandparents' diet (along with their lifestyle - i.e., walking a lot, socializing while eating, and generally maintaining a much more relaxed attitude in regard to just about everything) helped them live long, healthy lives, it also gave me a nice dose of additional stress to pile onto the normal everyday paranoia that seeps into virtually every one of my life choices. For example, bread. I now feel like I must plant ancestral grains and somehow harvest, thresh and grind them myself, little red hen-wise, before I can eat a sandwich. (It goes without saying that I will also have to figure out how to raise a pig, plan for its humane demise, and cure a ham from its eventual parts in La Jolla . Good luck with that.)

Anyway, that's all pretty ambitious. I do try to buy whole ingredients and cook a lot, and we eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I've been getting a CSA bag for the last month or so. This week I even bought some whole wheat flour to try to integrate more of that into my biiiiiiiiggggg weakness: homebaked anything. I love bread, pastries, cakes, etc., and I love them with real sugar, butter, and white flour. I don't think I'll ever be one of those people who can sub applesauce for butter and sugar, but I'm trying to use honey a little more (Yes, I know it's still sugar, but at least it's closer to its natural state than the white stuff.) and I'm backing off on using highly refined staples period. This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick by Flour Child was the recipe for Honey Wheat Cookies, so that fit in nicely with my plan.




There's still sugar and white flour in these cookies, but I subbed in half whole-wheat flour, and the recipe calls for honey in place of some of the sugar. The dough has to be refrigerated for a couple of hours and then you roll it in wheat germ before baking. The result is a subtly-flavored honey-lemon-toasty deliciousness that is perfect with a cup of tea. I loved these cookies. John said they were only okay but he did eat 10 of them, so I'm not sure you should listen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


What can I say? I'm late for TWD again this week! I actually made the dough for these cookies a week and a half ago, baked off one batch, froze the rest, baked off another batch last night and only managed to get one grainy iPhone photo of the finished product. These cookies are the leftovers that my niece is taking to school for a friend's birthday - cute, no? I used Scharffenberger 60% chopped up for the chips and left out the nuts; they were pretty good! Kait of Kait's Plate chose the recipe - thank you!




Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oscar Nominees!



A few years back John and I were invited to an Academy Awards-themed party at someone's house where we all got a ballot and got to choose our picks for for the Oscar winners, with a prize going to the couple who predicted the most. Now, I know some people have date nights and get out to the movies on a regular basis, but John and I have never gotten our acts together enough to organize actual dates, even when we were dating. We came in dead last because that year we'd managed to see exactly two movies on that entire list. One of them was Shrek 2, and the other one was some action movie that John had seen (Spiderman 2? Mission Impossible 3? I can't remember.) that was up for best lighting or something. Our huddled conversation: "Oh, well did they have good lighting in that movie?" "I can't remember the lighting. There were explosions."

So a few days ago I realized that I've actually seen a record-breaking number of movies this year (For me. Record-breaking for me.) . I have actually seen three - that's right, three! - of the best pic nominees! I've seen Avatar, Up in the Air, and Inglorious Basterds. I've also seen Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Julie and Julia. That's right, biatches, I've seen SIX Oscar nominees! I am that damn proud of myself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Cocoa Nana Bread


After a couple of weeks' hiatus from TWD we're back with this week's entry, a quickbread using chocolate and bananas as the main components. I love bananas and eat one probably every day, but John is allergic - he can't even touch a banana. A few people on the TWD boards said they were substituting either Greek yogurt or sour cream for the bananas, so that's what I did; I used a cup of sour cream in place of the two bananas called for in the recipe. As a further disclaimer, I believe I undercooked it somewhat because, as usual, I was baking late at night and I just had to go to bed regardless of whether my bread was ready!

After cooling and cutting, I decided it looked pretty dense and needed something to lighten it up, so I thought of whipped cream. Because really, what can't be improved by adding whipped cream? I defy you to name one thing, unless it's something that could be improved by adding bacon fat. Go on. I'll wait over here while you think about it, my non-vegan friends.


Anyway. I took the bread to my seasonal care-package-for-our-college-girls group where it was very well received, and the whipped cream was an excellent call. Thank you for this week's entry, Steph of Obsessed with Baking!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Geek Knitting

Baby booties, several pairs for homeless teen moms. Cascade superwash, various patterns.

Let's all cheer for a bit of knitting content on my supposedly knitting-centric blog! First, while you peruse some of my ongoing knitting (the tiniest tip of the WIP iceberg, my friends!), a link to some geeky knitting. You know, if my husband wasn't such a big guy I would seriously contemplate knitting him a periodic table sweater, just so I could watch him walk out the door every morning and say, "Wait, you forgot YOUR SWEATER!"

Then there's this one. I read a caption for this photo somewhere that called it the world's biggest bully magnet. Luckily nobody in my house is Mario obsessed so I don't have to commit that particular act of intarsia. And since I wrote this post a couple of days ago there are now a lot of other gaming sweaters making the bloggy rounds if you want to see more. (Edited to add: a Tetris blanket!!!)

In other knitting news, I helped someone cast off yesterday. Fellow knitters, do you remember those days? It's the scariest thing for non-knitters. The cast-on isn't such a big deal - you don't have too much time invested. But after slogging through miles of garter stitch rectangular knitting, screwing it up at the end is an overwhelming prospect.

Get Ziggy - the back. Not too Ziggy yet.

Imagine what it was like before you could go here! Seriously, my non-knitting friends, I'm happy to cast on and bind off (and pick up dropped stitches, or tell you why you suddenly have more stitches, or how a hole appeared out of nowhere, or whatever) for you as many times as you'd like. But some of you have expressed embarrassment at having to ask more than once...go to that link. Or go ahead and bring it by - you know I wouldn't tease you if I didn't love you.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti Relief




All politics aside, if you're wondering what you can do to help the people of Haiti, go to the Clinton Foundation website, where there are links that enable you to choose from MANY different organizations that are working on relief. You can also donate $10 immediately to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to 90999, or through the Clinton Foundation by texting "HAITI" to 20222. In either case, $10 will be billed to your cell phone and given to relief efforts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Collapse of Western Civilization


This is where we jumped the shark, right here. I don't care how much omega-3 it has - there is no part of a chicken shaped like this. Or at least, no part I'm willing to put in my mouth.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie - Apple Tarte Tatin


In the spirit of Julia "Never Apologize" Child, I'm just going to pretend my Apple Tarte Tatin is flattened ice cream topping and call it a day.

PS It would have to be the one I had to take pictures of.

PPS It still tastes divine.

PPPS Next time, don't overthink the flipping.

Happy anniversary, Tuesdays with Dorie and thank you for choosing this week's Apple Tarte Tatin - practically perfect in every way.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Holiday Baking

Cardamom Crescents

Here it is, 2010, the Monday after the holiday break. There was so much baking, cooking, knitting, wrapping, decking, and general revelry that I completely forgot to post my Tuesdays with Dorie entry for last week (chocolate cheesecake, which I even baked two weeks ahead because I knew I'd get entangled in the day-to-day) and I haven't taken pictures of any of my knitting.


Hazelnut Shortbread Sticks

There were holiday concerts to go to, dinners to host, trees to trim, and movies to watch, and we topped the break off with a trip to see the snow yesterday (more on that to come). Fiona was home so of course we had to see New Moon (a thinly-disguised excuse for a bunch of baby men to take their shirts off, if you ask me) but we also saw Avatar and Up in the Air, both of which were excellent. Plus how amazing is George Clooney? He even manages to be cute in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Coconut-Orange Snowballs

Snoopy turned three on New Year's Day, and even though we didn't throw him a party he marked the day himself by accidentally falling into the pool, which was exciting because he hates the water and completely overreacted and then dried himself off by running under bushes which necessitated a trip to the doggy spa and a second dunking. He's so small, and loves being inside so much, that it was the first time he'd ever gotten dirty with actually dirt.

Sablés

Anyway, I thought I'd wrap this post up with a few pictures of my holiday baking. The cookies, well, you've gotta have Christmas cookies. In addition to the sablés, molasses ginger, and chocolate crinkles I've made before, I tried three new recipes as well: coconut, hazelnut shortbread sticks (these were voted the best) and cardamom crescents. I probably won't make the coconut ones again, and although we all liked the cardamom ones, the hazelnut ones were so amazing I'll stick with those.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For dessert after Christmas dinner, I made flourless chocolate cake with warm caramel sauce and a French pear tart so people could choose chocolate or fruit. (Or both. I'm looking at you, Self.) This was the first time I ever made frangipane...so good. The tart proved to be very popular so I will definitely make that again next year and the chocolate cake is a recipe I make often because it's fast and delicious.


French Pear Tart

And just in case you think we didn't have enough sweets, the leftover caramel sauce became the topping for homemade ice cream on New Year's Eve, forever spoiling me for caramel out of a jar. Happy 2010!


Molasses-Ginger Chewies