NaBloPoMo Day 10: persimmon season

I intended to take a picture at the farmer’s market today but I forgot. Instead I took a picture of the persimmons I bought.

persimmon season

The vendor I where I get them has the sweetest persimmons ever. I really love them.

I would post about knitting but I’ve actually been working on a gift project that I can’t share yet. Instead, please enjoy the persimmons.

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carrot & white bean soup

Yesterday I made Eileen’s Carrot & White Bean Soup. I’m posting about this here because she asked me on Twitter what I thought of it and it will take me more than 140 characters to answer! First things first: I really enjoyed the soup. I will definitely be making it again.

It will probably surprise no one that I cook a bit like I knit: I don’t usually follow a recipe faithfully. Also, Eileen’s recipe didn’t give amounts for the herbs and spices so I wanted to make note of that. I followed the directions pretty much to a T, I just changed some of the ingredients and amounts of things, so here’s the ingredient list that I used:

about 1 Tbsp butter/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
6 big carrots
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp red pepper flake (use less next time!)
1/2 cup white wine
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups “better than bouillon” veggie base (because I had it)

I left it fairly chunky when blending, then cooked it down to thicken it a bit more at the end. I put a dollop of yogurt in mine and Erik left his plain. We both liked it but both agreed that it should be less spicy next time.

All in all, it’s a keeper! Thanks, Eileen!

the missing month

It's been a month since I posted! A big month too, the end of school is always a busy time. Here's what I've been up to. We went to the Maker Faire and saw cool stuff like this dragon.

We  went on a camping trip with lots of cool rocks.

And I spent a bunch of time helping some friends of ours pack up their house and sell their stuff to move onto a boat. In the process I inherited many pounds (20?) of organic white flour, about half as much whole wheat pastry flour, some hard red whole wheat flour, oat flour, yeast and vital wheat gluten. My friend Victoria also loaned me her copies of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. One of the reasons she was giving the ingredients to me is that half of her family is gluten-free now. So on Monday when I had her daughter over to play instead of watching them pack I also mixed a batch of the olive oil dough so that Victoria could at least eat some. I then made it into a foccacia with onion and olives on top. I didn't get a picture of it but here is the less beautiful version I made the next day, with Stefan's help. (He was "patting" with all of his weight so it got a bit squished and lumpy.)

It was delicious, though.

Tonight for dinner I used the other half of the dough and made two sausage strombolis (recipe also from the Artisan Bread cookbook). Again, not beautiful but really delicious.

Niels liked the bread but not the stromboli. I'm going to try it with pizza sauce instead of diced tomato and cut up meatballs instead of sausages. Niels only likes chicken apple sausage and didn't approve of the sweet Italian sausage. The nice thing is, if I make two I can make one Niels-friendly and one for the rest of us.

There has been some knitting too. My Rill is ready for the sleeves to be attached, so I need to knit those. I want to block the body first and make sure it's not going to grow too much and that the edges will work out. I also knitted a quick baby blanket for Stefan's baby doll, which I tried to get him to name Saskia. (It's supposed to follow the layout of the Moderne Log Cabin blanket but I kind of messed up.)

Saskia is the girl's name I have had picked out since about 1999. I love that name but since I am not having any more babies I figured the babydoll could have it. It didn't stick, though, Stefan calls her Saskie (and another doll Saska) so I guess it's close.

NaBloPoMo Day 25: pie!

I worked on my seam a bit today but I'm having trouble getting it to look like the other side where I picked up stitches. I have an idea for what to try next but I need to get the kids to bed before I can try it.

 

Instead I made pie.

 

The pumpkin on the left got a little dark as you can see, but the maple walnut pie on the right is gorgeous. I hope it tastes as good as it looks. We'll find out tomorrow!

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NaBloPoMo Day 23: make bread, not sweaters

I know this is not very helpful in terms of my NaNoSweMo goal but I made soup, spaghetti sauce and bread today and did not knit very much. Niels was sick over the weekend and was not fever free for 24 hours yet this morning so he stayed home from school. Every time I walked into the living room to sit on the couch and knit while they played there was some chaos in my way or something that needed attention. I got several loads of wash done (and folded!) and a lot done in the kitchen, most notably, the bread. I don't bake bread very often but I was looking in an old spiral notebook that has recipes I wrote down in the mid-90s, I think. My mom needed the recipe for Swedish meatballs that she gave me and that's where that one is. I was looking through it and found a recipe for Honey Whole Wheat bread which I say is from the bread book in Bon Appetit series of cookbook. I think that must mean it came from my mother's house so I am going to have to look at it again when we visit them because the recipe seemed woefully lacking to me.

There's no mention of kneading, just of beating the dough in the mixer. That made some sense to me until I got to the second "knead" and the bread was so incredibly sticky. I decided to knead it by hand instead. I had also substituted bread flour for the all-purpose and I think my whole wheat is pastry flour and I also added vital wheat gluten, so I wasn't exactly following the recipe anyway. I kneaded in a bunch more flour until it felt smooth, let it rest, and then shaped a loaf put it in the loaf pan rather than just beating it in the mixer and "turning it out" into the loaf pan. It was a success. (It's shiny because I had just brushed it with butter when I took this photo.)

The crust is very thick but the crumb is soft and sweet. I started to write that sentence in the past tense because I cut it and we all ate a couple of slices with dinner and it's almost gone! This is one of the reasons I don't bake bread that often, it takes all day and then is gone in an instant. I need to learn to make more than one at a time.

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NaBloPoMo Day 14: not entertaining

Some friends of ours host a coffee social at their house most Sundays. One of the parents in the family has been away for several weeks and so the hosting duties have fallen on other families in our circle of friends and I had volunteered to have it fall on me this week. I enjoy being able to entertain but I had hesitated because I don't feel like our house can accommodate as many kids as their usually are at this event without the noise level becoming excruciating. Swine flu saved me from having to find out, or prevented me from finding out that I was wrong, depending on your point of view. Since Niels' class seems to be getting it and a couple of kids in Stefan's class have been sick with something that also sounds like it could be it I didn't want to invite a separate group of children to our house when we could be coming down with it any day now. I'm sad that I'm unable to even try having them over but I really don't want to be responsible for spreading it around.

In my attempts to keep the sickness at bay in our house I made a recipe today that came from a small pamphlet at Whole Foods. I can't find the recipe on their website, though, it's called "Better Than Chicken Soup". I find the name somewhat strange since I did use homemade chicken broth at part of the soup but I guess the other ingredients also have immune boosting powers: garlic, turmeric, shiitake mushrooms, kale (i used spinach), squash (I used pumpkin), cayenne, ginger, lemon and miso. It also called for astragalus root which I don't have on hand. I wonder what that tastes like. I made it as a side to dinner and Stefan and I were the only ones who ate it. I thought it was fairly spicy but he didn't comment about the spiciness until I did. I think it would also be delicious with cubes of tofu added to make it a more filling dinner soup.

I didn't manage to trick myself into thinking people were coming over and cleaning up thoroughly but I did get as far as decluttering the dining room side of the kitchen counter. That part of the house is a clutter magnet as most horizontal surfaces are. I need to pay more attention to it on a regular basis because it's too easy to just pile stuff there and ignore it.

No knitting in this post yet! I don't think I'm much farther in the sweater than the last picture. I went to get my flat tire repaired but rather than sit and knit while they fixed it I walked across the street to the Japanese market to buy rice. I did knit one row when I got back before the car was ready. One row! How exciting is that?

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NaBloPoMo Day 6: too many books?

I think I may have gone overboard with books for Niels. He seems to be overloaded a bit. He took a book out of his class library and has been reading that. It's from the Guardians of Gahoole series about a group of owls. I haven't read them so that's all I know. I'm still hoping that he'll want to read Fergus Crane because it was such a fun little book. I also think he'll want to read to second of the Magic Thief books when we finally get to it.

I tried that tomato soup in my blender again, this time with less onion and it was red. It's still too oniony, I think. I have a can of pumpkin so I might try the pumpkin soup recipe next that uses sautéed onion and roasted garlic. It sounds really good.

My sweater is still growing in a very boring and unphotographable way. I mean, I could take a picture but it's not much to see.

Day 6 and I'm running out of stuff to say already!

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NaBloPoMo Day 3: soup … and knitting

I just did something incredible: I made soup in five minutes. Those of you who know me in "real life", as they say, or just on Facebook know that I have a VitaMix blender and I have been known to blend odd mixtures, or at least things other people don't want to drink. I haven't used it in a while for some reason but I got some fresh red chard at the Farmer's Market on Sunday and I have a jar of fresh raw cashew milk so I decided that it was time for green smoothies in the morning again. This morning's creation was 1 cup raw cashew milk, 1/2 a small avocado, 1 apple, 4 strawberries, a couple handfuls of red chard leaves and a squirt of agave nectar and it was delicious and very bright green. Getting the blender out and making stock the past couple of days (vegetable one day, chicken the next) reminded me that one of the things that impressed me about the blender before I got it was that the demo guy made soup in it while I stood there so I decided to give it a try. Stefan was asking for tomato soup and the recipe book that came with the blender had a recipe for Tomato, Onion and Cheese Soup. So I made that.

It's 1 large tomato (I used 4 small ones), 1/4 cup onion, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1 Tblsp tomato paste and 1 cup low sodium broth (I used homemade vegetable) in the blender on high for 5 minutes. That's it. I may have used too many tomatoes (2 probably would have been enough) and the onion was a bit too much for me but otherwise it was good. I am definitely going to try it again. I will either reduce the onion, buy sweet or red onion or take the extra few minutes to saute the onions. I might actually use chicken broth if I did it again, to add more flavor. But… how awesome is it that I can put cold ingredients in and get out steaming soup in such a short amount of time? The only downside (other than me rocking some serious onion breath right now) is that the blender sure is loud running for 5 minutes.

In NaNoSweMo news I am up to 5 inches of my sweater. This sweater has an inset front panel but I didn't see any reason not to knit the two fronts and the back in one piece so that's what I'm doing. That makes it difficult to photograph. But here goes. (Plus, you're getting iPhone photos for the next little while until I can figure out why my iPhoto hangs up when I try to export to Flickr.)

I am doing some calculations on the back to add more decreases to the waist and then I'm going to go down to the instructions for one size smaller on the back. I find that if I do that I get a better fitting sweater that doesn't bag in the back. Not bagging is good! I think it's going to work but I need to remember to pay attention to the decreases and bindoff at the shoulder so that I end up with pieces that are the same width at the shoulder. Instead of paying attention to the sleeves from the pattern at all I'm going to do a top down set-in sleeve which will make it faster (no sewing it in!) and hopefully a better fit. My last Norah Gaughan sweater had very snug sleeves. I wondered why they were so slim and then I read a note from Norah on Twitter:

Paraphrased: A slim sleeve makes for a flattering garment. But! Knitter, know thyself =)


Well, I know myself and prefer a less slim sleeve! I'm glad it's not just me though.

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things I’ve learned on Ravelry

This week I learned something totally unrelated to yarn on Ravelry: You don't need butter or marshmallows to make rice crispy treats.

I followed a recipe for Brown Rice Crispy Treats that called for brown rice syrup, which I didn't have, so I used agave nectar. I think they might need more time in the fridge to harden because of that but they still taste good. In face, Niels' friend who is over for a playdate declared them, "the best thing ever" and asked me to give his mom the recipe. Of course, how could I go wrong with peanut butter, sweetener and chocolate?

Yum. Thanks, Ravelry!

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poffertjes and peas, not together

After 10 years of being involved with a Dutchman I finally made poffertjes from a recipe instead of a mix! I had been intimidated by using yeast, for some silly reason, but it was totally worth it. The texture was amazing and they were quite popular with everyone. Of course, the fact that you melt butter over them and sprinkle them with powdered sugar makes them very popular in and of itself.

poffertjes!butter and sugar make everything betterstefan and niels love poffertjes

In the past week I've made the first two soups from a recent episode of Good Food. I'm glad I made the potato and green garlic one first because while it was good, it can not compare to the chilled pea bisque.


I don't think I had the full 2 cups of peas because Stefan was "helping" me shell the peas. At first he was really helping but then it ended with him shoveling the shelled peas into his mouth and saying, "My helping!" It was cute, though, to make up for the lack of peas in the finished product. The only other changes I made were not to use the mint, because I didn't have it, and I used jasmine rice, which isn't a change, since they don't specify what type of rice to use. It was the only white rice I had and I didn't think brown rice would work very well. Anyway, this soup is amazing. I think it's the texture that really does it. Because you strain the pureed pea/rice mixture it comes out the most amazing silky texture. I will definitely be making it again!

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