Archive for the ‘cookery’ Category

Goings-on in my kitchen

1. I was preparing a recipe the other day and realized I owned zero tarragon, despite the overflowing spice shelf:

And no freaking tarragon

2. While slicing a shallot for my dinner, I was greeted with an obscene gesture.

Mooned by my food

Totally uncalled for, really. The saucy shallot quickly became, well, sauce.

3. I either have a cold or my sinuses are secretly stuffing themselves full of cotton while I’m not looking, because I’m having a hard time sleeping, breathing, and concentrating these past few … ooh, shiny! The only thing that’s helping me so far is hot tea (preferably lemon) with whiskey and honey and possibly a dash of lemon juice.

Cold remedy

With much thanks to Femiknitter who told me about such life-giving sustenance several years ago, likely when I was stuffed up and she didn’t want to listen to me snort and sniffle any longer.

My brain is still MIA, so please ignore the pointless and nonsensical posts. Or don’t. Whatever, I don’t care. Do what you want. It’s cool. No, really. I can handle your judgment, so please yourself.
(Except the other day, when I actually typed “smartitude” on my blog and let it stay there? Yeah, I can’t handle the judgment on that one. Ignore it.)

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I’m a bulb.

This is my answer for why I’ve been feeling hibernate-y and uncreative and unsocial and grumpy this winter. I’m a bulb that turns inward until the sun comes out again, when I can synthesize the sunlight into huge bursts of creative energy that turn into something beautiful, after the frost is gone and the risk of damage is minimal.

Either that or it’s a significant chemical imbalance, so I’m leaning toward the bulb theory, if you don’t mind.


I promised details about the ingredients (seen here:)
Assemble the ingredients!

They turned into this glorious confection:

Want more? Of course you do. Here’s another look:
Chocolatey goodness

It was SO AMAZING. And so very vegan. And delicious. The texture? Imagine if a peanut butter cup got mixed up with pudding. In a good way. It was denser than a mousse or a pudding, but not what I’d call chewy or hard. Hey, I have a picture of the middle right here:

It was perfect. And I got the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking (amazon.com link, but if you have a local bookseller, think about buying it from them). The only thing I would change is that I would add about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to the mix. I think my peanut butter (East Wind or Earth Wind or East Tree or Wind East … something), an organic natural thing, is a little under salted and salt would have brought out the chocolate and peanut butter flavors even more. I actually salted a couple of the slices that I had, and they tasted better. Not that the pie wasn’t good. Because it was freaking awesome. And freaking vegan! So that’s why this is kind of a swatch for future pies made from this recipe.

Because I am strong and feel I can withstand the judgment that will inevitably come with this confession, I want to tell the internet that I finally washed my purple hat after two years. The hat was not fluffy, was no longer snug on my noggin, and did very little to keep the whistling winds of winter (yes, I went for the alliteration) from my delicate ears. So on Saturday I threw it in my hand-knit washtub (which also doubles as my dyepot when I dye yarn, which is never) with some Eucalan. The water, it was disgusting. Seriously, the hat had barely hit the water before the water went all brownish-cloudy and started smelling really strange. TOTAL GROSS. I squeezed the hat to let the wool wash get all through and I had to work hard to keep my lunch to myself. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YE: do not wait two years between hat-washings!!

The drying process reminded me why I didn’t wash the damn thing during the winter though…
Handknits, drying
… it took three days to completely dry.

And the very neutral-colored yarn I was knitting up turned into this,
six and a half inches
… a swatch for this summery sweater (.pdf link), which I’m hoping I can finish before winter comes back. Which means I should start it before spring is over. I am the slowest knitter ever.


In other news, this sign is on the side of a building in Rochelle, Illinois…
No Clearance
Possibly a proactive and helpful approach to dealing with the town’s joyriders.

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My Bread and Butter

When I was growing up I was sometimes a foolish child. I ran around the outdoors, played in the forests and fields and creeks, and helped my Dad chop down trees. Tomboy. Everything that was outside was awesome, and everything that was inside the house (cooking, sewing, sitting still) was boring and silly.

Foolish child.

My sister Laura became the baker, the stitcher, the inside daughter. She sent some of her cross stitch work to the county fair, astonished family and friends with her kitcheny skills, and is an all around domestic goddess. I was the one who mowed the lawn, hauled branches, and ran fast. If you saw my childhood pictures you might doubt my Swedish-German-English-Dutch heritage, so brown was I from being outside all the time.

Only in the past five or six years have I developed any kind of respect for indoor activities and traditional women’s work. I’m not going to treat this blog post like a therapist’s couch and try to figure out why I hated that kind of work; I like it now, and I’m proud to say that. I think being able to make your own food, make your own clothes, and be self-sufficient is a great skill and in many cases has been turned into great art (quilts, master knitters, etc).

I’m not making great art here, but I did recently learn how to preserve my own pickles. And I’m so freaking proud of myself!

On the last Sunday in August my Mom (who’s been doing this since she was probably 5 years old) showed me (age 27) how to make bread and butter pickles (in her house, not mine).

First you slice up the cucumbers and onions, then soak them in ice water and salt for THREE WHOLE ENTIRE HOURS.


Go for a walk while you wait. Talk about life stuff with your mom. Learn about wild plums, elderberries, wild grapes, and crabapples as you walk past them, and the best way to preserve them all. Also, prepare your spices.


When you get back from your walk, boil some jar lids (this sanitizes them).

Lids a-boiling

Stand at the sink and be a little embarassed and a little proud that your mom is taking pictures.

At the sink

Have ready your great-grandmother’s pressure cooker, in which you will boil the jars. Admire the winking design.


Fill up a pot with some sugar and some apple cider vinegar, making sure you know how much to use. Remark several times that it looks like pee. Get disapproving looks from your mother.


After the entire THREE HOURS has elapsed, rinse the cucumbers & onions, then add them to the sugar-vinegar-spicy mix.

Cukes & Onions

Meanwhile, have your jars waiting in superhot water. Pull them out nowish. Again, feel the embarassment and pride when your mother takes a picture of you pulling a jar out of a sinkful of water.

Jar, Sink, Hand

Your cucumbers are starting to look more like pickles. Get hungry.


Fill up your jars with the veggie-spice mixture. Use a 40-year-old wide mouth funnel for help. Try not to spill on the clean counters, but fail.

We Who Are About To Be Boiled...

And after you lid the jars and boil them for 15 minutes, you have pickles that you have made yourself.


They are all home with me, and they taste delicious because I made them. And because they are delicious.

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I just realized that the last four posts of mine have been entirely without photos. That’s boring. Really boring. So, to revitalize this blog, I give you pictures of what I’ve been up to during my non-knitting time.

1. I haven’t had these since fourth grade

I now have bangs.

(I was going to talk only about this new haircut and title this post “She Bangs” [because for some reason Ricky Martin songs are burned into my brain and nothing NOTHING! can remove them] but I didn’t want the really creepy perverts finding this site. I’m only comfortable with the sort-of-weird.)

The last time I had bangs was the fourth grade. I would get bored in class and just stare at my hair, which screwed up my vision, and which resulted in my not having bangs ever again (and also in my getting glasses in sixth grade, the end result of which are my new glasses visible in these fine photographs).

I got the rest of my hair cut, too, but I’m still not sure how I like it. The very enthusiastic stylist suggested layers, and I wanted a change so layers sounded really good. Then she took off so much hair that I feel dangerously close to mullet territory. THEN! she blow dried it all poofy and put more hairspray in it than I use in an entire year, and I looked like a lion. A lion, people. I’ve been wearing my hair up ever since.

2. What does a vegan have on her pizza?

We made pizza on Sunday night, using the following ingredients…

black beans…

diced cooked potato…

sauteed/carmelized onions (so tasty!)…

fresh mushrooms…

green olives (for which I have a mad passion)…

avocado (which we peeled and diced, of course)…

and fake mozzerella cheese, from Vegan Gourmet.

And pizza crust, and pizza sauce. And it all turned out amazing and tasty and good, but I didn’t get a picture of the finished product because I was hungry like the wolf and ate it all up before I even thought of the camera. Best pizza I’ve had in a long time.

3. When you can’t stitch, plan your next project!

Or your next project after the fifty in line ahead of this one.

There’s this long story behind the pictures I’m going to show you, but as I want this post to be more about the pictures and less about me rambling on and on about some crazy story, I give you the pictures.

This is Nine-Patch Number One…

…and this is Nine-Patch Number Two.

I started making these squares about three years ago, thinking that I’d make Nick an afghan (a visible and warming manifestation of my love). Turns out these squares are pretty small (7 inches across). I’ve made 20 of the buggers, and I’m not making any more. My current plan is to (1) Weave in the ends, (2) Crochet them together, (3) Somehow make one afghan out of two giant squares. I think I’m going to crochet a border around the nine-patches, then attach the two and make that the central panel of the blanket, then work some basic stitch on the sides.

Easy as pie, right? I’ll get to it right after I finish everything else.

It will make a great 15-year anniversary present.

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1. The weather has gone bat-shit crazy, as is usual here for March. Yesterday it rained all morning, got sunny and warm at lunchtime, then went grey and evil during the afternoon. Then it snowed all night with high winds (my apartment building? It sways in the wind. Yes.), and that seems to be the trend for today. Fantastic. But the weird-and-happy thing is, the wind that’s blowing feels not as soul-crushingly cold as it has been. That long-awaited season (I’m not going to jinx it by saying its name) is coming!

2. I have purchased new yarn.

Cherry Tree Hill in Monet.

Fleece Artist in Moss.

I decree that this is not a falling off of the KFYS wagon. I have determined that casting on for a second pair of socks practically equals finishing a second pair of socks, the prerequisite for purchasing more sock yarn. Plus I wanted it. Plus the CTH has turned into a beautiful teal-green-based rainbow of a yarn cake. And the pretty pretty Moss is for a specific project (more on that later… it is marinating just now). So I am entirely justified. I mean it.

3. Our friends Mark and Amy are coming to town tonight! We haven’t seen them since New Year’s Eve: Hammerfist Style and I’m totally excited about it. Friends of ours are having their wedding reception tomorrow, and MarkAmy are staying with us and it’s going to be awesome with the cooking together and the dressing up for the party and the hanging out. I’ve started the pre-preparation for the crockpot dinner I’m going to put together on my lunch hour, and dinner will be ready just after they get here, and all will be awesome. Awesome, I say!!

4. I have made progress on the to-be-felted tote.

I finished the base,

and cast on about thirty-seven times for the side. First it was too small. Then it was too big. Then it was way too big. Then it was too small. Now it is just right. Ugh. Garter stitch is a little sneaky stitch when it comes to how many stitches equal how many rows. This last time (the time that seems to be working, unless I have jinxed myself by saying that) I cast on 64 stitches, which is the number of ridges (2 rows of garter) I have in the base. I hope this is right.

5. My Mom’s feet make sort of cracking/snapping sounds when she walks. It’s not painful (I think) or problematic, her feet just do that. When I was little I could always tell when she was walking down the hall or up the stairs or wherever, just by hearing her feet snap. I never really thought about it until I moved out of the house and didn’t hear it regularly anymore. This morning, as I got up early to chop vegetables, my feet made the snapping noise and I realized that my feet have been making that noise for a long time. I have my mother’s feet. It made me all happy.

(I just don’t have any good recent pictures of me and Mom, what with the camera being a twit, so I give you a picture from my wedding day)

Anyone else have any physical trait from your parents that makes you smiley and happy?

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It’s so cold that there is no moisture in the air anymore. Everything is drying up and freaking out. I live in fear of the inevitable bloody nose, my hands appear to have aged 75 years in the last week, my hair is static-y and clinging to my face and neck which is making me want to just hack it all off with a knife, and the snow makes this annoying squeaky-squeaky sound when one steps on it.

That’s how cold it is.

I am pretty much done with winter, thank you.

Oh, and the vegan bechamel sauce? Right. The other night I had a taste for pasta with leftover vegan sausage (it tastes amazing and very much like sausage, because sausage tastes like spices), and thought I’d make a white sauce to go over it. In my mind it was going to be a lot like biscuits-and-gravy, a very savory white sauce full of pepper and goodness.

Did I go to the computer and look up “vegan white sauce” or “vegan biscuits and gravy”? Of course I didn’t, for I was feeling cocky and oh-so-capable and full of my ability to MAKE FOOD OUT OF NOTHING! So I just grabbed a non-vegan cookbook full of pasta sauce recipes, found one that resembled the concoction in my brain, pulled out my vegan ingredients, and went at it.

My first red flag should have been the quantities called for. Six tablespoons of butter (I used Earth Balance… mmm)? Some flour… three cups of milk (soy milk)? All this wasn’t really necessary — it was just Nick and me. Did I stop and reconsider? Of course I didn’t, for I was feeling cocky, etc. It was only after I’d added everything together and tasted it that I realized what was certainly obvious to Nick (who was humoring me in the cutest way): it was wrong on many, many levels, not the least of which was the fact that it tasted like a damn sugar cookie.

We had marinara with our pasta and sausages that night.

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