Where have you been

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lloie's Cardigan

Schoolhouse Press has a wonderful pattern from their anniversay issue (may be sold out on the site but if sold out, Meg has usually leaflets with the patterns. This month is a pullover or cardy with a leaf yoke pattern. The pullover is done in warm unspun Icelandic, but the cardy is done in Shetland jumper weight (a fingering weight yarn at about 6.5 st/in.)

I have a pretty good stash of Shetland from Harrisville Designs, and did up a swatch for the yoke to go with the body color of a discontinued tweed in raspberry with turquoise flecks. Don't know why they d/c'd this beautiful yarn. They have lovely colors and a beautiful palette but these were really special. Must have been in my stash for a decade. Never too late!

I may change up the colors, switching the orange for turquoise, or just doing turquoise as leaves with a banded background. The swatch doesn't use the three colors per row and you can see the transition from color to color is kinda funky. But doing three colors per row on a small swatch? Eh. No.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Though I am not a vegan, I did have a vegan Thankgiving, sharing a feast with some friends in Maryland. The menu included a tofu-stuffing casserole with gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, green beans. It was all too delicious.

I came away with a recipe for vegan Crock "Cheez"--an imitation cheese that is lower in fat than regular cheese. I made up a batch and it's positively addictive. I love a lunch of cheese and whole grain crackers, with some fruit or raw vegetables. But the fat in cheese makes it not the best item to eat. This crock cheez is savory, low in fat and a wonderful lunch or appetizer.

1 tofu extra firm, 8 oz (about 2/3 a 14 ounce block.)
5 tbsp nutritional yeast,
2 tbsp tahini
1-1/2 tbsp miso
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp paprika (I used smoked Spanish paprika from Penzey's)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard,
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
blend til smooth. I used a stick blender in the cup attachment; food processor or a suribachi is good.
Let sit an hour in the fridge to develop the flavor.

If you insist on that orange stuff, you could put in some natural carotene food color.

I warn you that this stuff will disappear; even non-veggie people will scoop it up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Knitting a Chullo

I'm making Knitpicks' Chullo (Andean) hat. It goes pretty fast once you've done the earflaps.

In progress, up to the first two small band patterns. I am now on the big bands of the llamas. Not hard. Very nice yarn.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The rain on the plain stays mainly to be a pain

Rain. rain. more rain.....it's November. Usually October is the rainy month.

This is a painting of alliums for Ebsqart's flower-of-the-month

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Cake

Fruit cakes were made as quick energy snacks for travelers in colonial times (think of them as early versions of granola bars or energy bars, neither of which I like to eat, even in emergencies.)

This is a modern version from the Cullinary Institute, featuring dried fruits, lots of whisky (all you'll get today--the bars and liquor stores close on Election Day to prevent giving drinks to buy votes, yes this kind of ACORN stuff happened in the past.)

Enjoy, and have a free cup of coffee at Starbucks with it, perhaps--as they are handing out coffee for free in honor of the election.

Election Day cake
Makes 1 large cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (cranberries, golden raisins, blueberries--even cherries)
1/2 cup American whisky
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 package (3/4 ounce) rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
Butter (for the pan)
All-purpose flour (for the pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit, sugar mixture, and whisky; set aside.
3. In a another bowl, combine the warm water and milk. Stir in the yeast and 1 cup of whole-wheat flour. Sprinkle the remaining whole-wheat flour on top. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the yeast breaks through the surface of the flour.
4. Butter an 8-inch tube pan and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.
5. In a bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
6. Set a strainer over a bowl. Drain the fruit mixture; reserve the syrup for the glaze.
7. In an electric mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one) beat the butter with the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
8. With the mixer set on low speed, beat the yeast mixture into the batter followed by the flour and spice mixture. The batter will be stiff.
9. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a large metal spoon, stir in the drained fruit. Transfer the batter to the pan. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. Set the oven at 350 degrees.
11. For the glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons of the syrup from the fruit. Stir until smooth; set aside.
12. Transfer the cake to the oven. Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
13. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. When cool, lightly brush with the reserved syrup. Top with the glaze. Culinary Institute of America

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Day of Rest

Sadly, Sunday was not as beautiful as Friday or Saturday (70 degrees, sunny, beautiful fall leaves. I swear November is one of the prettiest months here.) Clouds, damp and a bit of drizzle. But I got a day of rest. No painting, however.

I made oatmeal cookies, a roast chicken, with rice and cabbage for dinner. Somehow, we were very hungry all day even with a big brunch of potatoes, onions and sausage and poached egg.

Recipe for the cookies:

1.5 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter (yes, butter. You are eating cookies, not health food.)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cup whole SPELT flour (can use whole wheat but spelt give this a special taste)
tsp pie spices or just cinnamon
1 extra large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins
(if you like, you can add dry cranberries, dry cherries and or nuts.)
Cream butter and sugar, add egg.
Sift dry ingredients, alternate with milk.
Batter is a stiff but not dry mix.
Drop by big spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, bake for approx 20 min at 350 deg. F.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blustery but still remembering summer

Wow! The weather turned on a dime here. We had hot October days, like Indian Summer.  Then it turned cold and suddenly the leaves changed beautifully along the highway. Golds, russets, reds, oranges and the pines were a brighter green. Bam, then a nor'easter and it got down to the thiries, smelled like snow (we didn't of course get any but the mountains in Pennsylvania did.) Now it's just cold and damp. What a difference in a week. 

I painted a black-eyed susan for the Flower of the Month on EBSQ. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Days

This is some of the prettiest weather I've ever seen. Golden sun, filtered by orange and red leaves during the day, warm as a summer afternoon, then cool nights. The grass is deep emerald from the bit of rain we had in September (it doesn't rain much on this peninsula.) The leaves are delicate red, gold and bronze. Nothing like in New England, but with their own charm, to be sure.

We spent Sunday afternoon after church at the home of friends, Mennonite dairy farmers. Their church rotates the hostess after service, and those that wish, come for a meal and good fellowship. So the usual 8 person dinner table in the farm kitchen was expanded to hold almost 20, I think. 

As usual, the men sit conversing separate from the women (they had the parlor or front room) and the gals sat in the main family room. The seating at lunch was by couples. We had roast beef, fresh cut creamed corn (you will never open a can again, after you have this.) Also roast potatoes, jello with crushed strawberry puree (a fave of the kids) and bread with apple butter. There was a choice of sour cream or cream cheese for the potatoes. Dessert was similar to our last lunch at another farmer's--sheet cake, ice cream and a fruit sauce. In this case, it was peaches in a thick sauce, like a pie filling only not as sweet. Someone remarked that the box of ice cream was a lot smaller--the size typical for that brand's specialty flavors, not plain vanilla. I quipped that it was because of the high milk prices and we all had a laugh. When the corn prices rose early this year to sky-high levels, it was a serious question whether dairying made any sense anymore, since milk prices are controlled, but grain prices are not--and cows have to eat, like the rest of us. 

After, the conversation continues. The men apparently discussed politics and the world, we women discussed more mundane things such as travel, who was getting married, and how to fix the welt of a suit pocket that tore out when a child used it as a handhold when climbing on Papa. Here, my grandmother's instructions in "invisible weaving" were useful.  

We left at 4pm, the cows needing milking. They were glistening black, red and brown in the sun and galloping around playfully. Even they look somehow more radiant in this beautiful time of year.  

Sheet Cake with Ice Cream and Fruit Compote:

Make a white sheet cake with white icing--any standard white cake made in a long sheet pan will do, ice with white confectionere's butter cream icing. 


Take any fresh fruit and cook down; some ideas are peaches, apples, cherries, blackberries.  Sweeten to taste and thicken with cornstarch slurry or arrowroot or tapioca. Serve at room temperature along with ice cream (vanilla) and the cake. A 3" square of cake suffices as a serving with the accompaniments, so you might find a 18 x  9 cake will serve quite a few .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Galbi Jiim and comfort food for the coming week

I needn't tell you that if you work in the financial industry, last week was a shocker.

This week sounds to be not much better, so I continue my plan of cooking as many dinners on Sunday for the coming week.

I did a spelt noodle lasagna (for the wheat-averse here, spelt is an acceptable substitute.) I make standard noodle dough with white spelt flour and a hellacious number of double-yolk eggs. Spelt absorbs a lot of liquid compared to wheat. But it makes a superior noodle, as any Schwabian hausfrau would tell you. I rolled out flat sheets to the #5 setting on my Ampia pasta maker and made my mom's vegetarian version of lasgagna; egg, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan in a pudding-like mix with parsley and nutmeg, layered with tomato sauce and baked. It's better reheated as it turns out. The leftover noodles I cut into tagliatelle and the big guy got them with tomato sauce for lunch. I ate a cheese sammidge.

Then I did Galbi Jiim, which is a Korean short rib stew. I used boneless ribs we had in the freezer, and I happened to have brussels sprouts, potato and carrot, too. Here is the   RECIPE  

It came out delectable. I made more soup than this called for (because I like soup) and it tastes rather like French Onion, despite the shoyu addition. I did not use sesame oil--that goes in as a seasoning at the end, for those who like it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mediterranean Pot Roast

I make one pot roast on Sunday to get us through Wednesday, unless I'm doing a chicken or other casserole. No time to cook weeknights, and the budget does not like eating out, much less my PALATE, which is shocked and appalled at what passes for food in our local area.

So here's my recipe for Mediterranean pot roast, which can be varied by anyone to fit their tastes. Picture is forthcoming (it's still in the pot, braising.)

1 large pot roast (boneless chuck, 3-5 lbs)
1 onion, coarse diced
1 celery, coarse diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
chopped parsley, tbs
chopped leftover raw mushrooms, half-one cup (optional)
olive oil
Goya red sofrito
half diced raw tomato
1 cup red wine (we're using a merlot)
1 bouillon cube (we use Goya)
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
pepper to taste, salt if needed
saute meat on all sides until browned, take out of Le Creuset or other heavy dutch oven, set aside

In dutch oven, brown the onion and celery. When nearly clear, add the garlic and stir 1/2 min or so (do not burn the garlic.) Add the sofrito and stir, then the red wine and stir up all the browned bits and boil off the alcohol. You'll have a thick pasty veg combo. Add the cube and water. Mix. Add the parsley, bay leaf and the meat, cover, cook on low for 2 hours OR until it is very tender.

You can add carrot, celery, potato last half hour of cooking or so. For those that like, green and black olives and cherry tomatoes can be added. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Summer's End

We actually are in Fall! I forgot to mark the day. 

It is hot, humid and sultry, due to hurricane remnants. The grass finally greened up again after the summer drought.

I did this square painting for EBSQ's Flower-of-the-Month Show (this month; Queen Anne's Lace.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tea in Gion

The Big Dude just found some of my lost photos from 2000 from my stay in Asia. 

I had gone to Japan for an entire month on one trip, in order to do some training. One side trip from Tokyo was to Kyoto--yes, to Gion, the home of the geisha and this was after "Memoirs of a Geisha" was published. So that was exciting! 

We stayed at a ryokan, the traditional inn, and one day, wandering around Gion, we saw a tan plaster statue of a kimono-clad woman posed in the doorway of a teahouse. The statue was beautiful--the color a uniform tan, like tea-stained marble. We gazed at the statue for quite a while. Then, it moved and smiled at us! It was NO statue, this was a teahouse hostess, simply gazing out the doorway in some kind of meditative repose. She was dressed in a plain, light brown silk kimono, but how incredibly elegant.

Naturally, we had to have tea there!  I ordered matcha, which I had never had before (despite my Japanese teacher being a tea ceremony master, shame on me.) But I knew I would like it even before the first, bitter, fragrant sip of the green foam.

This is what came on my plate: a bowl of matcha and a sweet, a "wagashi" made of agar-agar (kanten) and sweetened, colored white bean paste. It was in the shape of a tiny fishbowl! I hated to destroy it by eating it, but it was delicious, a pure sugar sweet that set off the bitter aromatic tones of the matcha. A moment to celebrate every sense, including the aesthetic.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is the final version of "Rose Satin Blouse"--a painting of a Northern Pueblo woman done from a photo by my late father. Watercolor on paper.

Works in Progress

I'm starting a series of watercolors based on photographs my late father did of local native Americans in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

I paint watercolors, not nearly spending enough time doing them because I have a busy career doing other things in life. 

The first picture is the nearly finished portrait, the other is the starting wash after sketching.