Posted in Cooking, Current Projects

Mmmm, Tamales (Oh and knitting, too!)

Tamales last night turned out to be a success! I think next time I need to use just a bit more liquid in the dough because they stuck to the husks a bit. I noticed that when I added more liquid about halfway through, the dough was easier to spread on the husks and didn’t stick nearly as much. Another thing I would do a bit differently, is to roll them within the husk before sealing up. I didn’t realize I should have been doing that until after. Oops! The recipe I used was Grandma Salazar’s Tamales from Delicious Days blog. Even only making a half of a batch, I ended up with enough leftovers to freeze for three more meals. They are a bit labor intensive if you’re doing it by yourself like I was, but totally worth it, I think! There’s some more pictures of the whole process here.

All Cooked
Tamales. Yum!

I was worried Matt wouldn’t like the tamales because they weren’t flavorful enough or something (a common complaint with him and Mexican food), but much to my surprise, he really enjoyed them! 🙂

AND ENJOY!
Matt Approves

I took a picture of my Brandywine Shawl last night to share. It hasn’t seen much progress since I started it this past weekend, but I think I can get it done by the end of the SAL/KAL. The Camber Cardigan has been my #1 priority, so I’ve put things aside to work on that for the most part. I do break it up and knit a few rows here and there on other projects, though. Gotta have a little knitting variety. 😉

Brandywine Shawl
Brandywine Shawl

I may have fibbed that I put aside the Textured Circle Shrug yesterday. I ended up going home and working a few more rows of it. Knitting with bigger needles after so long of using US size 4 and below was strange! My hands seemed a bit more tense when I started on it, but loosened up a bit after a few rows. Still, they felt better when I put it aside to work on the Camber Cardigan on US 4’s.

Textured Circle Shrug
Textured Circle Shrug

Nothing interesting for dinner. Thinking the last two brats and pasta salad are on the menu. Nice and easy for the lovely weather we’re having today. Tonight is knit night! Yay 😀

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Posted in Cooking, Current Projects

Food, Knitting, and the Holiday Season

Wow! It’s been two weeks since I last blogged? I’d say I’ve been busy, but I haven’t felt very busy. I think I’ve just been go-go-go for a while with so many things going on, that when I finally had some down time, I just went with it and took some time off from keeping up with things online. Last week, I was pretty pre-occupied with Thanksgiving plans. I did a bunch of cooking and baking the weekend before Thanksgiving and even the day of. I was recently reminded of how much I love to be working in the kitchen when I spent most of the day baking a cake, making bread (rolls actually, but the process was about the same), and making lasagna.

326/365: Delicious Cake
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Rustic Rolls
Rustic Rolls
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

All three recipes turned out fantastic! The rolls were really hearty and not quite what I was looking for, so Monday I tried out a yeast roll recipe I found. Maybe the Best Yeast Rolls.

327/365: Yeast Rolls
Yeast Rolls

They were exactly what I wanted! SO GOOD. I highly recommend this recipe. I think the potato flakes really make it. I also made Apple Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet for Thanksgiving. It came out pretty decent. I ended up having to sub 1/3 cup whole wheat flour because I ran out of white flour. I’ll probably try it again, but cook the apples in the butter/sugar longer, possibly bake it a little longer, and use all white flour.

330/365: Apple Cake
Apple Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
(Photo from before flipping it over and out of the pan)

I’ve been knitting, too! I started Liesl. I need an updated picture because I’m just past where you separate the sleeves off, but here it is with the first one I made.

316/365: More Then One
Liesl, Take Two (Long sleeve version)

I finished Multnomah. I’m hoping the sun will peek out again soon so I can get some FO photos to share.

332/365: Multnomah, blocking
Multnomah, blocking.

I started a scarf for Matt. He liked my striped Noro one and wanted one in “guy colors” for himself, so I picked out these two sock yarns. When I first attempted the scarf, I found that I needed to work it on size US 2 needles! That was not about to happen (scarf on 2’s? NO WAY). I finally got around to winding the yarn doubled up and started it on US 5’s. It’s moving right along and holding the yarn double hasn’t created any issues other then the occasional missing one of the yarns when knitting. So far, he likes it. 🙂

Matt's Scarf
Matt’s Scarf

There’s a few other projects I’ve been working on (only one that I can’t blog about), but I’ll save those to share next time. I also have a pattern I’m going to share and a few in the works! Stay tuned. 🙂

Hope your holiday season is off to a good start! I worked last Friday, so there were no Black Friday sales that I went to. I wouldn’t have gone even if I did have the day off. It was quite at work with so many people taking the day off, so it wasn’t too bad to be working anyhow. So far we have a few holiday parties in the works, but only traveling within the area we live and most of the gifts I’m giving are knit. What about you? Any plans for this Holiday season? Traveling? Knitting/making gifts?

Posted in Cooking

Making Past Sauce

Today, I have a food post for you. Many people don’t know this about me (some just don’t ever seem to remember, others it’s never come up), but I went to culinary school a few years back. I loved it and found a passion for baking while going through the 16 month program. Due to circumstances beyond my control (car accident), I never ended up getting my certificate because I was 40 hours short for my internship. I was let go after the car accident after I called out a few times despite being told they’d work with me. Anyhow… I found a love for cooking. Then, for a long while, I didn’t cook or bake often. My partner at the time was the one who did all the cooking and I just took a back seat. Slowly, I’ve been finding my way back to cooking a little at a time. More recently Matt and I have tried to “kick up” our dinner routine because we were getting a bit bored with it.

Last weekend, we made a trip to Findlay Market. There’s a new pasta place there that makes fresh pastas, sauces, and ravioli. We got two different kinds of pasta, pesto, and ravioli. Last night we planned on trying the tomato basil pasta that we bought with my homemade tomato sauce.

Pasta sauce is one of the easiest things to make, I think, yet I know few people who make their own sauce. It’s one of the things I never really made myself, even after culinary school! So, today, I wanted to share how to make pasta sauce which I started to do after finding the cost of my favorite jarred pastas to be too expensive. I buy the main ingredients from Costco (tomato sauce, tomato paste, and stewed tomatoes/Rotel), which brings the cost down quite a bit and all of the spices I use are all things I keep on hand.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Here’s what I use in my pasta sauce:

1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 – 4 oz can tomato paste
1 – 10 oz can Ro-tel (tomatoes and green chillies – you can also use stewed tomatoes if you prefer)
Chopped onion
Emrils Origional Essence
Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic
Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb
Black Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Slap Ya Mama

My one “secret ingredient” is the Slap Ya Mama. I think it really adds some kick. I like spicy pasta sauce, though.

My Secret Pasta Sauce Ingredient
Secret ingredient: Slap Ya Mama

The first step is to put the Ro-tel (or stewed tomatoes) in a food processor. I love my mini food processor for this!

Rotel in Food Processor

Next, add all the spices to taste. My sauce is probably never the same because I don’t measure anything, but I’ve never been disappointed by it.

Add Seasonings

Now blend it all together!

Give it a whirl

Blended

Note: This step can be skipped if you like chunky sauce (or just pulse it a few times rather then blending it well) – I’m not particularly a fan of chunky sauce. You can also use crushed tomatoes instead if you don’t have a food processor.

Add the can of tomato sauce and the can of tomato paste to a medium sized sauce pan, then add the Ro-tel and spice blend and give it all a good stir.

Tomato Sauce & Paste
Tomato sauce and paste

Add in Rotel/spice mix
Add Ro-tel and spice blend

Give it a good stir
Give it a good stir.

Cook on medium low heat for as long as you can. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors blend. Sometimes this means I just heat it through, other times this means I cook it for 30+ minutes, depending on how much time I have and if I’m waiting on Matt to get home or not. Even on the nights it’s just heated through, it’s still quite delicious!

Last night I heated the sauce for about 40 minutes.

Heat on med-low

Cook your noodles and place in a dish…

Cooked Tomato Basil Pasta
We had fresh tomato basil fettuccini. YUM.

Top with sauce and Parmesan…

301/365: YUM - Fresh pasta and sauce
…and enjoy!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sometimes surprised how easy certain things are to make. Like pasta sauce! Throw a few cans together, add some spices, heat and enjoy. Plus, when you make it yourself, you never have to worry about the store not carrying your preferred brand anymore. 🙂

(We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled knitting tomorrow, but I think I can safely say – start expecting more food posts here!)

Posted in Cooking, Current Projects, Life

A Wool Gathering, Sweater Woes, and Cilantro Lime Chicken

This past weekend, we went up to A Wool Gathering. A fellow Raveler (Kate) was in Columbus for the weekend, visiting from overseas, and I offered to give her a lift to A Wool Gathering. It was fun! I do feel a little lame that I didn’t take ANY pictures while there and let Matt take care of that, so here’s some of the photos he took.

Sheep with Horns
We saw sheep while there (of course)

Small Balls - $2
And some small balls, for $2 each (that’s Kate holding them)

Comparing Skeins
Kate and I comparing some skeins of yarn outside the red of the tent.

Yarn Love
The one skein of yarn I came home with.
Here’s another picture, where you can see the yarn better.

We met some other knitters from my knit group there. It was quite a bit of fun! I was happily surprised that I only came home with one skein of yarn. I gave myself a small budget since I don’t really “need” any yarn, but I couldn’t go home without this one. It’s a skein of sock yarn from Creatively Dyed. I love the fun, happy, bright colors! I have to admit that I’m having a hard time not winding this up and casting on RIGHT NOW. Must knit that sweater first! Or finish some socks that I have on the needles. I already have 3 pairs on the needles, probably not best if I start another before something else is finished first. (I have more pictures from this past Saturday that we spent taking pictures, but I haven’t uploaded them yet. Next post!)

Last night I had a bit of a sweater disaster. I had been diligently working on the sleeve to my Starlight sweater all week and weekend. I even had a lot of extra time to because of the car ride to and from A Wool Gathering, so I was getting close to the top of the sleeve shaping. I measured and I finally hit 47 cm. Before I started the top shaping, I decided to double check my stitch count. I count 96 stitches. I check the pattern. It says I should have 106 stitches. Hmm… count again… nope, 96. Uh, oh. 😦

I look at the pattern and realize that I didn’t do the second set of increases correctly either (increased every 10th row instead of every 8th row). I must have read it wrong at some point. You know where this is going right?

IMG_6124
Sleeve at 47 cm (~ 19 inches)

::sigh::

The sleeve had to be ripped out back to the second set of sleeve increases. I now have all of 12 cm (4.5 inches) of sleeve done.

IMG_6127
What’s left of the sleeve

I’m feeling a little frustrated now that I wasted a week knitting this only to get back to where I was last Tuesday. I’m planning on having this be my Rhinebeck sweater, so I have some time to make up on it. I still think I should be able to get it done, just a little more stressed about it now.

For dinner yesterday we tried a new recipe: Cilantro Lime Chicken. It came out pretty good, but I don’t know that I’d make it like tacos again. Wasn’t quite what Matt was looking for when he asked for cilantro lime chicken, though it was still pretty good in it’s own right. It seemed like it needed something else. Matt suggested corn salsa and that sounds like a pretty good addition to me!

264/365: New Recipe
Cilantro Lime Chicken (tacos) with white rice.

It was fun getting in the kitchen and trying something new. I really must do that more often! We tend to eat a lot of the same things week after week because it’s “quick” or “easy”, but when I make something new, I remember how much I like cooking. I should line up more “new” things to make! Got a favorite recipe? I’d love if you shared it with me in the comments. 🙂

Posted in Completed Projects, Cooking, Current Projects, Life

Secret Garden Shawl (FO!), New Sofas, and Delicious Food

I was a busy knitter this past holiday weekend! Saturday I finished the Secret Garden Shawl. Here it is pre-blocking, measuring 30 inches across.

248/365: It's done!!
Pre-blocking

Sunday, I washed and blocked it. It took about an hour to get all those pins in it and my fingers were rather sore after.

249/365: SGS Blocking
Blocking

It seemed pretty dry by the evening. I gave it overnight to dry, just in case there were any parts that weren’t quite dry yet. It took a good while to get all those pins out and my fingers were even more sore after I pulled all of them out, but… it’s DONE!! I thought it would never end. The last clue’s rows seemed to last an eternity!

Pattern: Secret Garden Shawl (My Ravelry project page.)
Started: July 23, 2009
Completed: September 5, 2009
Yarn: Green Sheep Fingering in Hearts on Fire, 2 skeins
Needles: US 6 bamboo circular and DPNs
Notes: I lined up the double decreases from clue 3 with the ones in clue 4 by moving the marker. In clue 5, I didn’t need to move the marker at all for the double decreases in row 11 to line up with the double decreases from clue 4. In clue 5, I only did one chart repeat because I was worried that it would end up too big. It probably would have been fine with the 2 chart repeats, but I like the size it ended up (4 feet across). This is the first shawl I’ve knit that used fingering weight and the first shawl I’ve knit for myself. (Other 2 shawls were bulky weight and worsted weight, both gifts.)

Secret Garden Shawl (Full)

Secret Garden Shawl (Fence)

Secret Garden Shawl (Half)

I think I’m done with shawls for a while! Well, I do have Ishbel on the needles still and I’ll probably finish that, but nothing quite as big as this one is going to happen very soon. I think I just need a break from it for now! As a celebration for finishing the shawl, I started and finished the Bellona Cowl this weekend. I don’t have a picture of the finished cowl since it’s currently blocking, but I hope to share that later this week. 🙂

I think all this non-sock knitting has finally caught up with me and I’ve been itching to do socks recently. I’m figuring out the last little details of a sock design, but I think I’ll cast on for that very soon, maybe even today! Speaking of socks, I did actually start a pair recently. It’s the mystery pattern for Sock Knitters Anonymous (SKA) for the month of September. It’s designed by Nancy Bush. So far I’ve knit clue one and clue two was just released today. I’m using Socks That Rock mediumweight (mill end) on US 2’s.

SKA September Mystery Sock
Clue 1 of SKA Mystery Socks

Now that the shawl is done, it’s back to knitting Starlight. It’s a little over a month until Rhinebeck! Still plenty of time, but also a lot going on between now and then. I’ve been doing good keeping myself motivated to knit it and as long as I keep that up, I should have it done with time to spare!

We got new sofas last Friday. We used to just have a futon in the living room, which didn’t offer much seating, especially after rearranging the living room to accommodate the surround sound system. We picked out these from IKEA and they’re the KLIPPAN series. I think they fit nicely in our living room!

247/365: New Livingroom
Matt approves!

I have to share last night’s dinner. We made the most delicious dinner! We had scallops, golden-crusted brussels sprouts, and white rice (with butter and salt, yum). Oh my!! It was SO GOOD. Normally, I’m not a fan of seafood, especially scallops. Most (most, not all, there are a few exceptions) people and restaurants that I’ve encountered overcook them, so generally I avoid them. Yesterday, though, Matt cooked these absolutely perfectly with some garlic and olive oil. If I didn’t have a stomach the size of a bird, I would have eaten all of them myself! Om nom nom nom! The brussles sprouts were really good, too. All together it was a perfect combination and nice end to a great weekend.

250/365: Delicious Dinner
Om nom nom nom! Scallops, golden-crusted brussels sprouts, and white rice.

How was your holiday weekend? We didn’t do much for a change. This is actually our last free weekend for a while. Lots of stuff going on this month and next. All good things, though! It was nice to hang out at home and have my sisters and Matt’s brother over this weekend. 🙂

Posted in Cooking, Current Projects

Starlight, SG Shawl, New Project, and The Best Thing Ever

This week has flown by. At first it seemed like one of those weeks that was totally dragging, then yesterday it felt like Friday (disappointingly it wasn’t), and now it’s Thursday and I’m wondering where the week went! Every day this week I intended to blog, but something always got in the way and I’m already getting that “I have so much to update on” feeling that makes me not want to blog. Anyhow, I have some progress to show you on two projects, a new one I started, and the most awesome thing ever that arrived in the mail yesterday.

This past weekend I spent as much time as I could working on the Secret Garden Shawl. It paid off because I’m now done with clue 4 and two rows into clue 5. I’m using a 29″ circular for this and now that I’ve increased to 760-some stitches, they’re kind of crowded on there. I don’t have a bigger circular, nor do I want to get one. It’s working well enough, it ‘s just a lot of work to move the stitches around because there’s so many now.

Secret Garden Shawl, Clue 4
Close up of just the portion that is clue 4.

Secret Garden Shawl
The whole shawl.

The shawl has been put aside for now, though. After I did a few rows of clue 5, I set it aside to work on Starlight. This past weekend I got to the point where I was a few rows away from binding off the left front, but I set it aside (can’t remember why). Tuesday I picked it up again and finished the last few rows and now the left front is done.

Starlight: Left Front
Left Front, done!

After that was finished, I cast on for the right front. Figured I’d better get it going right away so I don’t lose momentum! As of last night, I only have a few more cables to do before starting on the 1×1 ribbing.

Starlight: Right Front
Right Front

Starlight: Almost a Sweater
All the pieces together.

Being able to see so much progress has helped to keep me motivated. If I keep working at the pace I have been these last few days, I think this will be done before September is over!

The new project I started this weekend is a pair of iPhone Mitts with last month’s Vesper sock club shipment “Summer Breeze (Makes Me Feel Fine).” Pretty simple pattern and thanks to the bright, fun, stripey colors of the yarn, I don’t really mind all that 2×2 ribbing.

iPhone Mitts
iPhone Mitts

And now… drumroll please… the most awesome thing ever arrived at my house yesterday and it is…

238/365: My Whirley Pop & I

A Whirley Pop!!

Well, I think it’s awesome and if you love popcorn, you will, too! I’ve been having the worst craving ever for popcorn for a long time now. Matt has forbidden microwave popcorn in the house and I can’t really say I blame him. It’s okay, but definitely not my favorite thing. Movie theater popcorn, though, is on my list of “Best Foods Ever” and when he told me about how Dognose on Shack News is always talking about how awesome popcorn is from a Whirley Pop and that it’s the only kind of popcorn he would agree to eating, I had to get one. Dognose was kind enough to put up a Popcorn FAQ. I ordered everything he listed and in 2 days (yesterday) it was on my doorstep.

Whirley Pop, the Whole Thing
Two samples of popcorn, buttery topping, popcorn salt,
Flavacol Brand theater popcorn salt, popping oil, and the Whirley Pop.

After dinner settled, I had to try it out. I followed the instructions in the booklet and started by seasoning the pan. After it cooled and the burner on our electric stove was heated, I put in the oil and popcorn and got to work.

Cooking Popcorn
“Here we go!”

Is it popping yet?
“How’s it looking in there?”

LOOK! The first kernel popped!
“LOOK! The first one popped!”

It’s popping!

(Okay, I give up, I can’t get the video to center!)

Delicious Popcorn
Popcorn is done and all the delicious toppings are on it.

And our thoughts on it?

Om nom nom nom!
OM NOM NOM NOM!!

It’s just like the stuff you get at the movie theater! Really good stuff. I can’t wait to make more! 🙂

PS You can see more pictures of the Whirly Pop over in the Flickr set.

Posted in Completed Projects, Current Projects

It’s done… and PIE.

I finished the test knit socks I was working on and I love them! They are gorgeous! It’s a great pattern and one you will definitely want to knit when it’s available.

HPIM0433

I can’t say enough good things about how these turned out. It was great to watch them grow – especially the calf shaping. Once I get Matt to take pictures for me for Julia, I’ll share some better ones, especially of the back, and do the FO report.

Since I’ve finished the socks, I have been working on other things. Two Christmas presents, ripped back on the Gable sweater (haven’t restarted), and a hat going to a friend.

Other than knitting, I’ve been attempting to re-create this chocolate chip pie:

HPIM0408

So far, I’ve done one that was basically chocolate chip cookie dough in a crust, which was really close, but not quite right. Then I tried chess pie (from the Joy of Cooking), with chocolate chips on the bottom, but I didn’t cool it (recipe didn’t say to) before pouring it over the chocolate chips. It was… nothing at all what I expected. It was almost like pecan pie with chocolate chips instead of pecans. Tasted a bit like caramel, but so sweet, I thought my teeth were falling out while eating it. I was given another chess pie recipe (slightly different) to try and we’ll see how that one goes! I know I could just ask for the recipe, but what fun in there is that?

Posted in Cooking

On Sandwiches (aka What a Delicious Post)


IMG_1749
Originally uploaded by Gorillapond

I used to hate sandwiches. Not all sandwiches (I've always loved hot, toasted or grilled sandwiches), but cold, pre-packaged lunch meat sandwiches with crap I didn't like on them (like condiments other than may, lettuce, tomato, onions… anything but meat, cheese and mayo, really). Then I discovered the deli counter. What a fantastic discovery! No longer did I hate cold lunch meat sandwiches so fiercely, but I wasn't convinced anything belonged on them yet. It wasn't until the last year that I really accepted lettuce and red onions on my cold sandwiches and occasionally I'm game for tomatoes.

This weekend, we attempted to recreate (with our own touch) the delicious sandwiches Matt loves which are all variations of an Italian sub or sandwich. We went to the deli counter and purchased Angus roast beef, maple turkey, hard salami, prosciutto and provolone cheese. Picked up some turkey peperoni, shredded lettuce, Roma tomatoes, red onion, Italian vinaigrette dressing, hot banana peppers, and cuabatta bread. When we got home we made this delicious sandwich and man was it GOOD. This isn't one of those sandwiches you eat every day, but it was great to be able to create this sandwich at home and not have to go someplace to buy it pre-made. Besides, if you ask me, our version was way better ;o)