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February 2010

January 2010

And just like the dust I'll rise.

It turned into an evening with Julia. Great, old standbys.

Start every recipe with a glass of wine. Into the cook. (Also coined by a Julia.)


JC's simple white bread. You do need a nice KitchenAid for this one, unless you want to knead the dough for ten minutes (which I have sillily elected to do. Once maybe.) The key to rising well is NO DRAFT. And by that I mean NO WINDOWS OPEN. Doesn't matter that we live in California. Yeast is a fickle thing. A nice non-drafty spot is actually the oven. Or your microwave. I like to kick the process in the rear a bit, so I fill up the sink with fairly warm water and set the bowl in there. It's that patience thing. Read somewhere recently that slow rising results in nicer bread, but who has time these days anyway? 


There are a gazillion Potato & Leek soup recipes out there. Some use fancy chicken stock, some use cream AND butter, but I still like the simplicity of the first recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". How much art is it to combine only three ingredients, where one of them is water, and make a super yummy soup that never gets old?! Brilliance. 


It must be the only Cookbook I own that doesn't have pretty glossy pictures. It is kind of nice to know what a dish is supposed to look like after it's made, but maybe most of all, being able to salivate over all the incredible dishes in the photos. I also have a terrible addiction to cooking magazines.

We don't have a recipe per se, but here's a visual.

Chop equal amounts of leeks & potatoes.

Yes, equal, any less and you don't get the leek flavor. Also when leeks are in season, which is now, they taste more mellow than they do out of season, or at least that is my theory. It doesn't hurt to add extra. And if you don't have enough leeks in your fridge, then you can always add some onion. This is really not about perfection, it's about being sufficient.


Dump leeks & potatoes into pot, fill with water until potatoes are covered.

Be generous. But don't overfill it, you want a soup with a creamy consistency. 

Putter soup on the stove until potatoes are tender.

Depending on how large your potatoes were chopped, it can take up to 45 minutes. Just check every so often, and let it keep puttering. The beauty of this is, the bread is ready to be worked into rolls.

(This so was not by design, but it makes for a nicely put together dinner!) JC's original recipe is loaves, but I like rolls better, so we just cranked the oven a little hotter (by 30 degrees F), and kept them in there for only 14 minutes or so. 


24 rolls were enough to freeze for later. That's sort of the point of baking, not just for the moment, but so you have nice baked goods every day. It's not like I grew up in ancient times, but I remember always having home made bread. If you bought bread from the store you were just plain lazy. Or a bad baker. Or so my Grandma says.


It is also nice to have "cheap" bread towels to put over your rolls as they're rising (for the second time.) Those of you who have been to Smith & Wollensky's know what I'm talking about. Love their napkins. A lot.

Stick the immersion blender into the soup for a nice whirrr when it's done to your liking, but don't make it completely smooth, we like our soup chunky, just like Julia. A dollop of cream and some butter, S&P to taste, & viola. If you are trying to cut corners, you really can skip the extras, they're not needed for consistency. But we really like cream & butter around here.


It was a nice Friday dinner.

P.S. I'll Rise, Ben Harper.

Old Mr Time

The Knitting Olympics project was decided upon. Find the oldest UFO, and just finish it. So Print O' the Wave stole it is. Ok, so I think there may be a sweater out there that's older, but God Only Knows where it is located. That must be worse than a UFO, it's been actually forgotten/misplaced, (or is that better?)

Now with recent events, the likelihood of it actually being finished is slim, but trying has to count for something.


Last week sort of felt like every hour was squeezed to its limit, & shit actually got done. Makes you wonder sometimes what I used to do with all my free time.


Oh yeah, that is Sherry in the measuring cup. Suprisingly nothing into the cook.


Chicken & Dumplings, sans Dumplings; but with rice, sort of turned into soup. But very good nonetheless. Leftovers for sure. With a little planning this upcoming week, maybe time can almost be reclaimed.


I swear these will be shipped this week.


Never wanted to see the inside of any color work I ever did. Seriously, most of it looked atrocious. Watched a few videos & read some (who knew you could learn by reading?!), and now I LOVE using more than one color. A little crazy maybe, hankering to make the Autumn Rose sweater. But that's for another time.


P.S. That would be Cook's Illustrated Chicken & Dumplings recipe. So very good.

I must be missing the snow

The really, really, really, pristine white kind. Not the brown kind it turns into, nor yellow. Anyway.


In my defense, dinner was mostly from the Cupboard, marshmallows maybe not so much.


Apparently didn't even own a candy thermometer. The recipe was from Martha, but BrowniePoints also has an IDENTICAL (practically) recipe. And whoever said it makes 24 marshmallows must be a GIANT. We counted 80. Ok, really 85, but you HAVE to taste them too. Who wants some marshmallows anyway? Martha's recipe says they keep for 3 days, BrowniePoints, for weeks - I will go with that one. Buoy observed "it's made from sugar and corn syrup, how can they not last forever?!"


And a warning. These marshmallows are sticky. Very sticky. Really, really, really sticky. We cut them into long strips with a very greasy sharp knife, across the short side. It was a total bitch, but then you roll them around in the confectioner's sugar, and it makes them nice and smooth and easy to cut into cubes, something we figured out half way into the cutting process.


This may be a lot of work for some measly marshmallows; but oh BOY are they GOOD. Who knew pure sugar tasted so good?! Next time we'll probably make Rice Crispies Treats with half the batch, and make marshmallows with the rest. Because it makes a lot of marshmallows. A lot.


Suppose we have to drink Hot Chocolate every night now. This is where that cold & snow could come in really handy, it gets awefully warm here.


And don't leave your candy thermometer in the sugar mixture when it is boiling, it gets really wonky, and maybe a tad hot. Like, don't-touch-it-hot.


Endpaper mitts were done, still in need to be washed, blocked, photo-shooted & sent across the ocean. Elvira is a new project, being made with stash (!!) yarn for EB. Some insane 8 ply Swedish cotton yarn my Grandma apparantly forgot she gave to me and had been looking for in her storage room. ( I knew I got something from her.)

Birthday Socks

They were a present, well the yarn & pattern were. She had to make the socks herself. They could also be called 9 Rubies Socks, as that's where we were when the woman working there wrote down the pattern repeat she was using on her fingerless mitts we were admiring. We thought Tina could figure out how to make it into socks. It's also a nice manly pattern, so I decided to make Buoy & Miss Ella Bella matching pairs for XMas. Ok, so Ella Bella's pair were just finished today, I think they still count as XMas socks. Maybe next year I'll plan better. Ahahahahahahahaha.


Here's the pattern for both sizes, it's written how I think when I make socks; I tried to be more organized and actually write down what I did this time, so I didn't have to count stitches on the second matching sock. I know, novel idea, huh?

Tina's Birthday Socks


[p3, k4-pattern] repeat.

k4 pattern:
row 1: sl1 k1 yo psso
row 2: knit
row 3: k1 sl1 yo psso k1
row 4: knit

You could always adjust the p3, adding more purled stitches or reducing them to fit your foot, or stick to doing it in 7 stitches, I quite like the pattern the way it is.

"Manly Sized"

For a size 9-10 men shoe I used 70 stitches, they are a little tight, but 77 were too much (it's a 7 stitch repeat). 

Leg: Cast on 70 stitches, join, knit in pattern until desired length.

Heel flap: 32 stitches. (So I made sure it was divided into [k4-pattern,p3]x3,k4-pattern=32 stitches.That leaves purls on the sides of the foot for the top of the foot which, personally, I think looks better.) Slipped stitch pattern for heel; i.e. on RS: sl1, k1 until end, WS: sl1, purl all stitches. Work until 21 slipped stitches on each side of heel flap (or for however long you want the heel, this is pretty long, but it was snug to begin with...)

Heel turn: Work around 4 center stitches. That means; knit 18 st, ssk, k1, turn work, sl1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn, knit until one stitch before previous row, ssk, k1, turn, you get the point. You will end up with 18 remaining stitches after heel turn is done (the last row it's just a ssk and p2tog and no knit stitches.) You will end on the WS,  so turn work and knit 9 stitches. This marks the beginning of your row, I like the rows to start on the bottom of my foot, don't ask me why.

Gusset: Knit another 9 stitches, pick up all slipped stitches + one (21+1=22 st), knit around the foot in pattern, pick up another 22 stitches, knit 9 more and you have finished row 1. Then you decrease one stitch on each side of the gusset every other row until you have 32 stitches on the bottom, then continue foot until you have about 2 inches left for the toe. Or so.

Toe: Knit one row. Reposition stitches 2x17 stitches on bottom needles, 2x18 on top. Decrease for toe on two top needles (ssk and k2tog), knit one row, then start decreasing normally for toe until 28 stitches remain (14 on top, 14 on bottom.) Graft toe. Viola.

"Ella Bella Size"

Our girl has some big feet, so I would say this is a 6-9 month old baby size.

Leg: Cast on 49 stitches (I know, that sounds really big, but it does work out. Or maybe our girl just has some chubby legs.) Work in pattern.

Heel flap: 25 stitches, 11 sl stitches each side.

Heel turn: 3 center stitches, at the end you have 15 remaining stitches.

Gusset: Pick up 11+1=12 stitches each side. k2tog under the foot on the first gusset row so you have even number of stitches (17). Reduce as normal until you have 12 stitches on each needle on the bottom of the foot.

Foot: Continue as long as you need to (it's never long enough I've realized).

Toe: Decrease for toe until you have 16 stitches left, graft toe.



Now there MAY have been a yarn purchase around here in the last few days. Whoops. Yarn is for a present for my grandma, her hands are always cold, and her birthday is coming up on the 10th, her favorite color is turquoise, and as a knitter herself, would really appreciate something hand knitted (too much in fact, she never wears the socks I made for her, in fear of wearing holes in them, it doesn't matter that she is a knitter herself and has darned more socks in her lifetime than anybody I know, and that I TOLD HER I'd make her new ones. But anyway.) Endpaper mitts here we come. And OH MY GOD how awesome are they?!


I highly recommend learning the cast-on method and beginning of the mitts she uses. That Eunny chick knows what she's talking about, I kept admiring the edging over and over again when it was done. NORMALLY I highly dislike color-work, but ever since I figured out how to knit with both colors on one hand it is a DREAM. Ok, maybe not a dream, but now I understand the joy of it. And the mitts are easy and so gorgeous. Oh right, the yarn is also very very lovely, Shi Bui sock yarn. No, I had no solid color sock yarn in my stash, is that not crazy!?


Did work on cleaning out the freezer last night, that should make up for any yarn purchases. (And awesome freezer chili for dinner.)

Let's Get Ready To Rumble

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines; Let's get this party started; And it begins; all adequate descriptions of a New Year.


This New Year is promising to be a hell of a lot different from the last one, filled with important moments, it warrants starting fresh, new. No holding on to the past, scrap the old blog, the only remnants to save are knitting and crocheting projects, which are still in use, and remembered. And that is what is important, wearing past projects on my feet right now feels pretty self sufficient somehow.


The knitting ideas abound as always, maybe even more now with the Little One to knit for. The mental projects are stacking up quickly, it is a year of WINTER OLYMPICS. Can't wait (and already have a project lined up. Or three.)


I used to think New Year's resolutions were lame. We should just put our minds to it and do things when we want to, not wait until the new year to begin. However, doing this you kind of miss the opportunity to force yourself to take time and assess the past year, good and bad, (finding the good is always more difficult it seems), and ways to improve what you already have. 


Maybe we're a bit behind the curve, but Using What We Have seems fitting this year. That means looking in the overflowing cupboard for things to use before going to the store. Sifting through the ever growing yarn stash and base projects off of what I have. (I know, doesn't that sound so good in theory?!) Starting with FINISHING old knitting & sewing projects. Then on to smaller, more specific projects, cook new things, read more, both fiction & technical, and maybe most of all, be more patient.


From the cupboard: Wine, Potatoes, cream, Sprinkles Cupcake Mix (ok, this one was lame, we really wanted a nice fancy home steak dinner to kick off the year...)


Knitting: Using stash Buoy XMas 2009 sock yarn (EHPF) to finish matching woolies for Ella Bella.

P.S. Working on getting the look of the blog back to normal, useful links & pretty colors and all that stuff. It may take awhile.