So I knit the first mitt in a week, but then I got delayed knitting squares for my log cabin blanket, working, and watching tv, etc. Oh, I decided to make it a mitt because my gauge was too tight and I remembered reading this Grumperina post about how mittens have to have positive ease.

Fingerless Mitt

One side.

Fingerless Mitt

And the other.  Isn’t Central Park in Fall gorgeous?

Fingerless Mitt

Starting the second mitt.

And here’s a random photo of a creepily decorated ghost cookie. I went over to my friend’s house to decorate cookies (she is a professional pastry chef, hence the high quality of the base cookies). The odd decoration is all mine.

Cookies

Posted in cooking, Mittens at November 4th, 2010.

You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging recently. It sort of came up because Adam asked me why I hadn’t applied to be a Weddingbee blogger even though I read it ALL the time. (Even, I must admit, after I was married.) A small part of it was because I am a writer for money (though not here on my self-funded, three-reader blog) and I didn’t feel I wanted to write for a commercial website for no pay. The bigger part is that I am a huge oversharer in real life. I like to overshare about everything–even if I just met you at a dinner party, I am soon telling you about all of my life problems. But the internet is not the place for that–it’s a place for undersharing. However, what I think makes a blog interesting is when people are really personal. But how can you do that without oversharing?

I started a knitting blog so I could share my projects, but Ravelry has really efficiently created a way of sharing knitting information that surpasses individual blogs and Facebook seems to have replaced personal blogs in general. I have always read blogs on Bloglines, but now Bloglines is closing down and it makes me have to re-evaluate the role of blogs. I enjoy having a place to blab about what I want, but I wonder if blogs are still the best way of doing so. Sigh.

Anyway. Here is the shawl so far. I am SO over knitting it and want to knit many other things, but I must finish this shawl first, otherwise it will sit around taunting me:

Shawl

Let’s see, what else do I normally blab about. Um, books. I finally finished a rather short but very bleak non-fiction book The Oysters of Locmariaquer, which I wanted to read after my Brittany all-oysters-all-the-time honeymoon. This book was the winner of the National Book Award in 1965. In addition to being a fairly comprehensive history of oysters in France, it tells the story of the oysterpeople in Locmariaquer. Every tale was incredibly bleak. In addition to working all the time and making very little money off an unstable business (oysters), the oysterpeople had these terrible life stories, many of which seemed to involve your only and beloved daughter being beaten in an oyster restaurant before committing suicide with just…one…oyster to eat. I think this book was hard to read because every chapter seemed filled with even more bleakness. But the prose is beautiful and often funny, plus I learned a lot about oysters.

Foooood. Here are some food photos, since this has now become a housewife blog:
Rice-Cooker Cooking

I made this in the rice cooker after reading Roger Ebert’s book The Pot and How to Use It. Let me save you your money and point out that there is no need to buy this book. Adam got it from work for free, but it is basically this entire blog post on Roger Ebert’s blog published in book form. But funny and informative. Roger Ebert turns out to be hilarious and enjoys cooking everything in a rice cooker. You are not going to get a Michelin star from anything made in a rice cooker, but it will be edible and fairly easy to make. This is the Jubilee rice from Lundberg that I am a fan of, cooked with Imagine chicken broth, and reconstituted shiitake mushrooms (pour boiling hot water over dried mushrooms and soak for at least an hour), edamame, tofu, spinach. Plus Penzey’s spices, which I now throw into everything.
Banana Bread

Banana bread from Cook’s Illustrated, I think the September issue. Yummy. Wait, I think I might have to get a slice now.

Posted in cooking, Shawls at October 8th, 2010.

I know, it’s a knitting blog…and I’m hoping to have more knitting content next week. But I have been cooking a lot, so here’s some food pix.

I made some ratatouille and stretched it out over three meals and not until the last meal did it reach its full potential.

Meal #1:
Dinner

This is from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison, with her accompanying semolina crepes. It was okay, but it was lacking something. (For those of your shopping along at home, this is our lovely everyday wedding china, One O One, by Eva Zeisel for Royal Stafford; Sasaki Asana flatware, designed by Vignelli Associates; and Riedel wine glasses. I am grateful for all of our wedding gifts, especially because I lived like a stereotypical bachelor before I got married and ate frozen lasagne over the sink with my one fork. Seriously. I only had one bowl. When Adam moved in, he brought two bowls. So we had three crappy bowls. But now I am truly grateful for being able to eat off nice plates and not my dollar store purchases. And we now have so many great kitchen tools! My most used gift, besides the plates and flatware, is, I think, the garlic press.)

Anyway, the next night I cooked it over rice, which Adam deemed a big improvement. And then finally, I had the idea to add beans. This finally elevated it to a truly tasty meal:

Dinner

VOILA!! Here’s my recipe. I am including the brands not because I am paid (HA!) but because I think it might be useful.

(0.) Cook some dried black beans from scratch. They have much more texture and taste (and are significantly lower in sodium) than the canned ones. I put in a heaping teaspoon of Penzey’s Fox Point seasonings when it was cooking. This takes awhile, so budget out a few hours to get this part done.

(1.) THE RICE. I highly recommend using this short grain brown rice mix–it’s got some chew and a lot of flavor. It’s called Lundberg Jubilee. I bought it at the health food store and according to the package it is a mix of “Wehani®, Black Japonica™, short and medium grain red rice, short and long grain brown rice and sweet brown rice.” Okay, whatever. But it’s a crucial element of my recipe, in my opinion.

(2.) Put the rice (I used 3/4 cup for two people) and put double the amount of chicken broth into your rice cooker or pot. (So, here, I put in 1.5 cups of chicken broth. I use Imagine Organic, because that is what Cook’s Illustrated decided was the best after taste tests, and Chris Kimball is my lord and master. I would also try to use a lower-sodium brand here.) I also sprinkled Penzey’s Spices Old World Blend over the top and stirred it around before I started cooking. (We got the Penzey’s “Ethnic Milwaukee” set of spices from Adam’s Milwaukee cousins as a wedding gift and I have been using them with abandon.)

(3.) Cook the rice.

(4.) Form a mound: Put in a bunch of rice. Heap some warm beans on top. Put the reheated ratatouille on top. Ratatouille is tastier after a day or two in the fridge. As I said, this is from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison, but probably any recipe for ratatouille is fine. Fry an egg. Put it on top.

(5.) Eat.

Posted in cooking at September 17th, 2010.

So, I started a new shawl, but I don’t have any photos of it yet, so sadly, this post will be photo-less. Unless you want some food photos. FOOD PHOTOS. Oh so boring:

Chickpea Couscous

Mark Bittman’s Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Apricots, from the New York Times dining section a couple of weeks ago. This was okay. For a quick recipe, it was pretty good. It was no couscous royale that you can get in Paris (yes, I know, I am one of these annoying people who finds Paris ab-fab), but it was decent. I would say B+. But the chicken thighs (I bought Murray’s) were tasty.

Kale Chips

Kale chips. These took over the knitting and food internets recently. I enjoyed them. I was actually lured by Crazy Aunt Purl’s negative review of them, claiming they tasted like nori. I like nori, so I made them. This is the recipe from the kitchn. I cut down the salt to 1/4 teaspoon (and two shakes of the salt shaker) and it was still way too much. Go lightly on the salt. Also. Very very easy to make. I would say A-.

Also, here are some book reviews. I know, this blog is filled with excitement. But what can I say? I read, I eat, I knit. Or as Laura Bush supposedly said, upon meeting her future in-laws, Bush 41 and Barbara Bush, “I read, I smoke and I admire.” Maybe I should read Eat, Pray, Love.

Anyway.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. I was making a bunch of Miss Havisham references recently and figured I might as well read the damn book. Parts of it were much funnier than I expected, which was a plus. However, I am torn about Dickens’ emphasis on plot. Though I often prefer plot to character development, Dickens is pretty crappy at developing characters, to the point where even I, a plot-whore, noticed. But he is a master of family revelations, which I also enjoy, but it makes the book somewhat ridiculous at times. You know everything is going to be wrapped up in the end, however implausible the connections may be. Could the con man truly be related to Estella? YES!! Well, I guess since this was written as a serial, it requires ridiculous family revelations. Much like the ongoing soap Brothers and Sisters on ABC, which I am also fond of. Dickens=Sally Field ranting. Very similar.

The Uncommon Reader, by Allan Bennett. I thought this one was pretty funny. I like royal gossip quite a bit, so this novella about Queen Elizabeth II was totes entertaining to me. Your appreciation probably depends on whether you enjoy thinking about the British Royal Family in your spare time or not.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. This one was okay. It was somewhat predictable, I think, in its depiction of two totally smug, self-righteous characters, but it was set in Paris, so that’s a plus. (For me.) It kind of was like this Louise Fitzhugh kid’s book I read Nobody’s Family is Going to Change. Or Bridge to Terabithia. There’s something about this book that seems sort of ’70s-ish. Maybe the French are stuck in the ’70s? I don’t know.

Here’s to some knitting photos tomorrow!

Posted in book reviews, cooking at April 19th, 2010.

Okay, I always think food on people’s knitting blogs is Very Boring, but I don’t have a lot of knitting content to show you, so food it is.

Asian Chicken-and-Spinach Soup

Asian spinach soup with chicken from America’s Test Kitchen Best Simple Recipes. This could be improved, mainly because the noodles make everything very gummy. Also, I halved the recipe, but left in two chicken breasts. This was a mistake. Should have only used one. But used more spinach. The mirin and Asian chili sauce, though, adds some nice punch. I would say a B. I would make again, but it needs some tweaking.

Cheddar Herb Biscuits

This is not the best picture, but these are herb cheddar biscuits from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics. I owned an earlier version of this cookbook (entitled just Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, I think) but I gave it away when I moved several years ago, but I missed it, and luckily, I received the new edition for my shower! I always wanted to make these since the recipe was in the magazine, and they were great. I halved the recipe (which was supposed to make 20), and it still made almost 20. Tip: If you want to save re-patting the dough out and stuff, cut into wedges instead of circles. These are actually pretty easy to make, and Adam loved them (even the day after, when they were a bit less tasty). He ate 5 when they were hot. He asked what the secret was and I said, “Crisco.” He was all, “Martha put Crisco in a recipe?!?” I said, “Well, she called it vegetable shortening, but I’m not sure what else is vegetable shortening except for Crisco.” Also, an entire stick of butter. Still, very tasty and flaky. Amazing how fats make everything tasty. This was a solid A. Especially good hot!

Okay, am aiming for knitting content tomorrow, so this doesn’t turn into hausfrau blog.

Posted in cooking at April 6th, 2010.

So, I like how I was all braggalocious in my last post and was like, “Hey! I’m going to post all the time!” Apparently that was an April Fool’s joke in my mind. Also, I came down with a cold. Anyhow, since I don’t have any new knitting to show you, here are some crappy photos of things I tried to cook recently:

soup

This is a barley soup al verde, from the Silver Spoon Cookbook (oooh lala). It was re-tweaked for Serious Eats. Barley with cabbage and spinach and stuff. It was okay, I would rate it a B.

IMG_0762

This is a mystery en papilotte! Or actually, mystery en aluminum foil.

Et voila!

IMG_0763

Scallops! I made way too many–I made this pack x2! Only needed one. The devious fishmonger convinced me I needed more. I overcooked them a bit; I worried 10 minutes wasn’t enough, but of course it was, and I cooked for 12. Also, I really need an oven thermometer. Yes, I put one on the registry!

IMG_0764

I don’t think you can tell, because of the color of the plate, but there’s roasted beets with scallops on top, with clementine slices and a balsamic orange vinaigrette on top. Kind of made it up with stuff in my house, but it’s a copy of a very similar appetizer at Dumont, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Posted in cooking at April 2nd, 2010.