Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Knit One, Kill Two
rofl. This is the first in a series of mysteries that take place in a knitting store, or around it's patrons/owners. This first book was a good way to blank out on the world. Easy read, I'm curious how the New Found Love at the end evolves throughout the rest of the books.
Dead Till Dark
First of the Sookie Stackhouse books, on which True Blood is based.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It keeps with your typical Anne Rice cannon of vampires (no glittery shit here) and respects tradition. The beginning was a little too simple, where the main character just can't help falling for the new vampire in town, but the interactions and plot throughout the rest of the book are very entertaining. There's a guest character at the end that is just fucking hilarious! It just kept on getting better and better, and there were times towards the end where I couldn't help laughing for five minutes straight. The best thing is that it seems like it was intentional.
This was Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, based on a memoir of the Texas Roller Derby in the 80's. If they hadn't used a cell phone, I would have sworn it was set in the 80's. There were so many hipster kids in it (including the chick from Juno) that one more guy in girl's pants would have made it painful. Luckily, it all managed to blend together and disperse. I loved the story, I loved the bouts, the music was incredible, and the cast was surprisingly tolerable. A very good experience all in all.
Julie & Julia
This movie made me have to make room on my altar next to Martha Stewart in order to also fit Julia Child. Holy crap, this woman was amazing! She just decided that she was going to take classes at Le Cordon Bleu with the Big Boys, just because she was bored of being a house wife! I hope my love for her super duper cooking prowess isn't just due to my love of Merril Streep who played her. I now want to find her memoir, cookbook and tapes of her show, because I really, really want to cook like her!
I saw this for the second time, and it is still a great movie. It is a wonderful movie where all you have to do is laugh and enjoy. It has a great soundtrack, simple yet effective plot and cast. And Bill Murray ^_^
Gobble Gobble, Motherfucker! hahahahahahahahah. Dude, DUDE! You have GOT to find this movie on Netflix on Demand! It is a horror/slasher movie that prides itself on its minimal $4000 budget. It's a spirit that is pissed off at the pilgrims, that reincarnates 505 years later in the form of a turkey (puppet) that is out to kill the descendants of the pilgrims. It is bad, and they know it, and embrace it, and make it absolutely awesome!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Last year a friend made this recipe for rainbow cake, which I have tried in many incarnations. One of my main gripes was the use of artificial sweetener in the Diet Sprite, so I decided to use seltzer instead.
1 box cake mix - devil's food cake
12 oz (1 355 ml can) plain seltzer
24 small strawberries for decoration (these were a bad idea, next time will try dehydrated)
The important part here is that the seltzer replaces ALL of the additional ingredients, so you don't use oil, water, butter or eggs. As far as I've read, any carbonated beverage can be used. This drops the calories from about 220 to 160 for two cupcakes.
Mix, pour into molds, and follow the baking instructions on the box. Some people on the internet have mentioned that this cake is a bit crumbly (mine haven't been) and recommend adding an egg or egg white.
I decided to put a strawberry on each cupcake, and I would now like to advise people against this. They were very good right out of the oven, but after a couple of hours, the strawberries started to melt, leaving these tiny bunt cakes with strawberry mush in the middle. Future incarnations might include dehydrated strawberries instead of fresh, or chopping them up and tossing them into the batter.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
(mainly a ton of butter spray)
1) BASIC BREAD
The original recipe is enough for two, 1 lb loaves. I mixed up two batches separately, and then divided into four. The first portion was very well buttered and dropped into it's pan.
2) CHEESIE BREAD
Roll out the dough and cover with a couple of cups of cheese. Roll up, cut in 1" slices and toss into a well buttered pan.
3) MONKEY BREAD
Ok, not really, but close enough. Melt half a cup of butter (1 stick) in 1 cup light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Ball up the dough and toss liberally with butter spray and sugar mixture.
One thing to make sure of, though, is to keep the butter and sugar from spilling over and burning. (ask me how I know!) An aluminum wall is helpful. Or a big enough pan.
4) ROSEMARY GARLIC
This was an easy one. Before kneading the dough between proves, add a handful of rosemary, garlic and salt to taste. Yet again, place in well buttered mold.
Once the breads are formed, it is necessary to let them prove again and double in size (about half an hour). In the meantime, set the oven to 425 (if your oven can actually set itself at a desired temperature). Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool in pans for about five minutes and remove whenever possible to cool on racks (except for the monkey bread).
Monday, November 23, 2009
But at least I got to use this recipe and make some really nifty yummies. They were amazingly moist, and even though the alcohol gets boiled out, you can make them substituting soda, and not pouring Baleys into the ganache. I copy/pasted the recipe, and modified it to what I actually did in parenthesis, due to being lazy. All quantities used were slightly less than exact.
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout - Guinness
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (I always use salted!)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process (dark Hershey's)
2 cups all purpose flour (bread flower)
2 cups sugar (light brown)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (probably only used 1/2 or less)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (tollhouse semisweet morsels)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (or like a shot or two)
Baileys Frosting (too lazy to make)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag. (What I actually used was a melon baller and pyrex measuring cup with spout.)
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend (psh). Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend (kitchen aid mixer with whisk). Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. (switch to paddle
attachment) Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined (or just to push down the sides). Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes (since my oven is way less than calibrated, and every time I open the door, the thermometer gives me a different reading, I start checking around minute 15 and then every couple of minutes). Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl (2 c pyrex measuring cup). Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate (or stick chocolate, cream and butter in microwave for 30-60 seconds). Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can renuke it a couple of times for 15 seconds each). Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (or barely poured). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer (small melon baller), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little "poofs" everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]
Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)-----
The original recipe says that readers wanted extra filling, but I had more than half leftover. I ended up spooning it on top when served instead of making more icing.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Last sunday was our annual Fakesgiving dinner, where we invite the kids over to the house and force feed them before they are kicked out of the dorms. This year was quite an impressive feat, in which I cooked a 23 lb turkey (to perfection, IMO) that got devoured!
This recipe takes the guidelines from Martha Stewart's Turkey 101 and some ideas I found in a Jamie Oliver cookbook.
23 lb turkey
1 bottle white wine (dry and un/lightly oaked like a chardonet)
1 lb apples
1 lb onions
1 lb bacon
2 heads good garlic, or 6 from the supermarket
1 stick salted butter
Rosemary sprigs for stabbing
Thyme, rosemary salt and pepper to taste
Big ass roasting pan, with rack
Turkey button (just in case)
Basting brush or, well, a turkey baster
Cooking twine, or enough completely natural fiber string/yarn to tie legs together (you can test if it burns in the oven before cooking)
Prep time: 1 hr
Cooking time: 6.5 hrs
1) Quarter all apples but one and all of the onions and let marinate in the wine with 2/3 of the garlic over night.
2) Take giblets out of the thawed turkey and rinse out the cavity.
3) Mince 1/3 of your garlic and mix with butter, herbs, salt and pepper.
4) Chop up half of the packet of bacon.
5) Carefully separate the skin off of the breast, leaving it intact. Tack down the neck flap and fill in the skin/breast pocket with the butter mixture and bacon pieces.
6) Make 12 rolls out of a couple of inches of rosemary staking a chunk of garlic and wrapping it in a two inch piece of bacon.
7) Fill the cavity with the apple, onion and the rest of the garlic pieces, and save the wine for basting. Use leftover apple to plug cavity and tie the legs around it.
8) Puncture each thigh 6 times with a sharp knife and stick a rosemary roll in each.
9) Tent with a sheet of aluminium.
The turkey is now ready to go into the oven, at 325 F. You will need to pull it out every 30 minutes to baste with the wine.
10) Around the middle of your cooking time, or when skin starts to get crispy, cover breast with a layer of the remaining bacon.
Use the weight of the stuffed turkey to calculate the cooking time (about 20 minutes per 500g/1lb 2oz). This 25 lb monstrosity took about 6.5 hrs. Turkey is ready when button pops, or when you stick the instant read thermometer in the meatiest part of the turkey it reads 180.
In the meantime, use the giblets and neck to make gravy. You can boil them in some stock for the whole time the turkey is roasting. Season towards the end, and use flour or corn starch to thicken. These should both be incorporated by mixing in a separate bowl with not-boiling liquid to avoid clumps, and then adding little by little to the sauce pan.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I love knitting, I have a strong hippie bend, I've always wanted to be more active. Sure, I'll give it a try.
Now, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Knitivism? What could they possibly be doing?
- knit blankets and scarves for the shelters
- knit cardigans for the battered women, to help them feel better and get the drive to work through it and get their lives back in order
- knit something for the old folks, let them know people still care
- how about those boobs they need for teaching nursing?
I don't know, I figured it would be using knitting for good. What I actually found was a bunch of dirty, 5th year sophmore hippies that are all about Darfur and Thon, who sit around and pretend to move their needles which they just bought at walmart.
The guy running the meeting was all "I want to be, like, umm, a vegetarian, because like, umm, the environment... and... ummm... like, yeah, umm, it's healthy... did I say the environment? Oh, but I don't think I'll keep it up for Thanksgiving. I might try to pick it up again after the holidays, because like, I like turkey, and umm... like the food is good... did I mention the environment?"
Dude, srsly. Have you ever heard of a thing called a conviction? I have met many, many vegetarians since moving to the US; only a couple of them were actually serious and did research deeper than that horrible PETA Whale Watching campaign from this summer.
I'm still on their listserve, and I plan on keeping an eye on them. Maybe they will decide to actually -knit- for something, rather than just be "activists" who pretend to move their needles.
Friday, November 13, 2009
So this week I've been working on a new headband, since I've been using the quant so much. I wanted something pumpkiny and autumny, so I found this pattern on Ravelry, by Kristi Holaas. It' originally for a worsted weight scarf or cowl, but I liked the pattern, and it's working up nicely in Knitpicks Pallet - Massala, on I think #2 needles.
The edges are curling in a lot, so I'm going to have to block it when I'm done. I haven't blocked anything because I'm big on the L, but meh, it's only yarn. I was also informed last week by Phiala that I do my SSK and K2Togs backwards and that I should just exchange them when I read patterns, but I was three inches in to the headband when I realized that meh, maybe it would make a difference and look better if I did. I'll keep that in mind for my next project.
Oh yeah, I was also noted that the diamonds look like snatches. Meh.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
364 yds Red Heart, Blue $1.50
185 yds Lion Brand Homespun, Montana Sky $4.50
Boye crochet hook, size Q (15.75 mm) $3
Total time = 3 hours
Holding both ends of Red Heart and one of Homespun together, work in spiral rounds.
To make bobble (MB), work 3 SC in same st leaving 4 loops on hook, draw yarn through all 4 loops at once. Draw yarn through loop tightly to close.
Scs between bobbles are also pulled tight to diminish gaps.
1. Ch 3. Join to start.
2. Mb x 3 in center hole.
3. (Mb, sc, mb, sc) in next gap. Repeat until there are 12 bobbles in outer round, or outer diameter is size of head.
4. (Mb, sc) in each gap until yarn runs out or hair is desired height, weave in ends. About 24 inches. Each round is 1" tall.
Fill finished hair with balloons or bubble wrap to get rigidity without being too heavy.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Knitpicks Pallete in Blush
231 yds/50 gr per ball
23.7154 yds/5.1332 gr used
2.5 mm crochet hook
5 cotton balls
3 1/2 hours
Ovaries are 1" around, with 3" tubes.
OVARY (make 2)
Work in spiral.
1. Sc 7 in magic ring.
2. (2 sc in next st) x 7. 14 sts.
3. Sc around.
4. (Sc into next st, 2 sc into next st) x 7. 21 sts.
5. (Sc into each of next 2 sts, 2 sc into next st) x 7. 28 sts.
6-11. Sc around.
Start decreasing rounds. Stuff before hole gets too small.
12. (Sc into each of next 2 sts, sc2tog) x 7. 21 sts.
13. (Sc into next st, sc2tog) x 7. 14 sts.
14. Sc around.
15. (Sc2tog) x 10. 4 sts.
It is now time to work on the tube.
Continue to work 4 sts in spiral until tube is about 3" long, or long enough to tie in a knot. Finish with 4 hcs. Tie knot, break off and hide yarn.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Araucania Ranco -Solids: PT484 Green
Hand painted 4ply sock yarn.
Each hank is unique, so there are no dye-lots.
75% wool 25% polyamide.
Approx 344m (376y) per 100g skein.
Gauge 24st to 10cm on 3.25mm needles.
Final weight 51.9882 g, 195.5 yards on 3.25 mm needles (US 3)
Made sep 12, 09 - oct 5, 09, about one week per sock.
Dry cleaning is recommended. Gently hand wash with cool water and mild soap. Wash similar colors separately. Dry flat, do not sun dry, soak, spin or tumble dry.
Figure-Eight Toe, by Knitty
wendy's toe-up sock pattern for the short row heel
This pattern is a combination of the two found on these websites, and a leaf pattern from a book. The leaf lace uses 8 patterned rows plus 8 knit rows, for a total of 16 rows of 12 stitches per repeat, a bit bigger than an inch square. When doing the repeats for the foot and leg, the pattern can be split easily into two 8 row halves to acquire the desired lengths. For a roughly size 41 ankle sock, I did 4 1/2 repeats for the foot, and 2 repeats for the leg.
- 1. Take 2 of your dpns and wrap your sock yarn around them in a figure-eight, leaving 8 loops on each needle.
- 2. Knit one row on each needle.
- 3. Begin knitting in the round by picking up next round with 4 dpns.
Friday, October 2, 2009
So, with that whole knitting kick, I really wanted to take a sock project on the plane with me, but, oh noes! Metal DPNs are not allowed on an air plane. Or at least, I didn't want to risk it. So I ordered a set of Options Interchangeable Nickel Plated Circular Knitting Needles and a pair of acrylic tips.
Well, they weren't as terrible as I expected them to be... ok, yeah, they were. I bought a Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball CRAZY Sock Yarn ball at Mad About Ewes in Lewisburg, PA a couple of weeks ago, two ply, 75% Merino Wool and 25% Nylon.
(eta: holy shit, that's me freezing my ass off!)
Holy crap did it screech! If there is something that really ticks me off while knitting, it's screeching. Then again, I can't stand it when anything screeches, so I refuse to wear or buy anything that is fleece and synthetic. (Friends don't let friends knit Red Heart!)
- The needles made a lot of noise with the yarn.
- The torquing of the cord constantly made it unscrew, no matter how hard I tightened it before each row.
- The yarn would often catch between the acrylic and the metal.
- The damned needle broke two hours into my flight!
Yeah, that's the one that pisses me off the most. I mean, I know that I'm a tight knitter, but I was purposefully babying the needles for that same reason, and because I had just dropped $70 on them. I'm planning on calling them up next week and hoping they refund my money.