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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

A Return to Posting

Yes, I do believe we’re settled in enough now that I can return to posting on occasion.  You’ve probably already noticed that the banner across the top has changed.  I wanted a new banner since we’re living in a new place.  I had originally intended to place a picture of Texas bluebonnets up there, but I haven’t been here long enough to see the bluebonnets.  Yes, there are plenty of pictures of bluebonnets on the internet, even some free ones, but I’d like to put one of my own photos up there.  So, I guess we’ll just have to wait until spring for that picture of bluebonnets.  In the meantime, I thought I’d use a picture of a couple of skeins from my stash.  I think the contrast of colors is nice, don’t you?

So, yes, we’re settling into our new home here in Texas.  The first couple of weeks were definitely on the warm side, but we have cooled down nicely in the last week or so.  The evenings are down right chilly!  (I will be able to wear my sweaters!)  Most of the boxes have either been broken down and put away or have been put in their permanent places.  We’ve done a lot of sorting since we moved into our new home.  We’ve discovered that we don’t need to hang onto as many things these days.  Several boxes of books have either been sold or donated to the local library.  Several boxes have also gone to Good Will.  Lots and lots of papers have been either shredded, trashed, or recycled.  It feels good to have gotten rid of unnecessary things and to have some room to breathe.  Of course, the craft room is as full as ever!  =)

In The Kitchen

Now that the house is basically put together, I’ve been back in the kitchen and cooking and baking again.  There for a while there were waaaay too many meals out or made from processed foods.  Blech.  So, I’ve already made a couple of loaves of Ezekiel bread, a batch of cookies (peanut butter cookies), and a German Chocolate cake for The Husband’s birthday.  There’s been plenty of cooking too.  Last week I cooked all of our meals, including those meals that The Husband took with him on his 2-night, 3-day, road trip (lunches and suppers)!  I wasn’t sure how much he’d appreciate that, but when he came home he said it had been nice not having to look for a restaurant and to be able to eat whenever he liked.  What he didn’t like was that some items got a bit soggy in the ice chest – especially the wheat wraps for a Waldorf Chicken Wraps (from So Easy by Ellie Krieger) and the romaine lettuce for the same wraps and a salad.  So we still have a few details to work out for him to pack his meals.  He also had with him some Curried Chicken Salad on a bed of lettuce from the same cookbook and Quinoa with Sundried Tomatoes from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno.  Quinoa is my new favorite grain.  It apparently has the most protein out of all the grains – and it tastes great too!  =)  I had originally thought it didn’t taste good, but it turns out that you’re supposed to rinse it in warm water for a minute or so to rinse off a bitter coating that the grains naturally have.  Here’s a picture of The Husband’s and my lunch today.   It is Quinoa Tabbouleh from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook.  Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur, but the quinoa tastes just as good.  I think tabbouleh traditionally has more parsley in it than what I added.  The recipe doesn’t say how much parsley to add, so I just guessed and used most of one bunch of parsley from the grocery store.  It tastes great with the one bunch, plenty of parlsey flavor but not too overwhelming.  The dressing is lime juice, lemon juice, and soy sauce.  There are amounts listed in the cookbook, but I just kind of eyeballed it.  There are chunks of tomato and cucumber in the salad as well as edamame for some additional protein.  I’d definitely make this salad again.  It can be eaten either chilled or at room temperature, which is nice for The Husband while he’s on the road.

 

In The Garden

Okay, there isn’t actually a garden at my current home.  We decided to live in a complex for now while we look for a house to move to later and the complex doesn’t have garden plots for each home.  I asked for permission to create a small garden space and the landlord was incredibly kind and said yes.  So, this past weekend we went to a greenhouse and bought several small plants appropriate for fall planting here in Texas.  We also went to a typical big box hardware store and bought supplies to make a very small raised bed and the cutest little cold frame kit I’ve ever seen!  Oh, and of course we bought dirt as well.  The original plan had been to make sure that all the plants and materials were all organic, but, well, I wanted a garden immediately (that first freeze is coming fairly soon and I needed those plants established!) and the plants at the greenhouse looked healthy and I’m pretty sure the dirt, compost, and manure said they were organic.  There certainly weren’t any chemicals added to the dirt (like fertilizer).  And I’m not intending to spray my plants with anything.  So, I think we did good enough on this one, at least for now.  After much hauling of heavy material, moving things around, an hour of putting together the cold frame, and getting dirty up to the elbows, we have:  a raised and cold-framed garden!  It’s not the best picture, but you get the idea.  The frame around the raised bed is made of 8 cement blocks.  The cold frame is made of heavy-duty plastic and plexiglass.  We pushed up some dirt around the base to seal off where the frame meets the cement blocks and last night we could see moisture collecting in the frame, so it is apparently sufficiently sealed.  What, you may be asking, is planted in there?  Well, we have herbs including thyme, oregano, and two different kinds of parsley.  We also have some vegetables including Swiss chard, broccoli, and cauliflower.  The Swiss chard and broccoli should produce several times, but the cauliflower will only produce one time.  Once the cauliflower is done, I will probably plant a couple of lettuces in spring and then maybe a tomato plant once it gets warm enough to take the cold frame off.  We also got some catnip and rosemary plants and they are planted in pots and placed up front near the front door where they’ll get lots of sun and some heat bouncing off the driveway and brick wall of the garage.  Now all I have to do is sit back, watch the weather for frost and freeze warnings, water, watch my plants grow and wait for the first harvests!

Swiss chard in my garden


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Back in the Kitchen

Yes, I know.  It’s been a while since I posted.  Between the cloudy weather and it being Tax Time, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to blog.  It’s still Tax Time, but at least the weather has warmed up.  Today it’s a sunny 63 and it actually feels like spring might be on its way.  Daffodils have just started blooming and there are some trees in bloom too.  Some of the trees are just starting to show a mist of yellow green and the snow has begun to melt on the lower parts of the mountains.  So, since Mother Nature has actually shown some signs that she might actually consider giving us a spring, The Husband spent the afternoon out in the yard cleaning up the downed branches, trimming bushes, and getting two of the garden plots ready for planting.  He also planted the Arugula seeds and the Daikon Radishes.  Everything else either needs to be planted indoors or needs to wait until the end of the month or later.   Hurrah for Spring!!

In The Kitchen

Yep, I’ve been back in my kitchen and playing with my food (grin).  While listening to Stitch It, I heard Meghan mention a website that has recipes for people on a no gluten/no processed sugar diet.  I don’t have an allergy to gluten, but I do try to limit my processed sugars, so I headed on over to Elana’s Pantry.  She has a TON of recipes over there and some of them look really, really good.  The Lemon Kale Chips will probably be a future kitchen experiment at our house.  However, today’s recipe was a special request from The Husband.  He was craving chocolate chip cookies, so I made Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies They’re made with almond flour, agave syrup, and dark chocolate.  I had to go pick up the almond flour and the chocolate chips, but I had everything else on hand.  After I mixed everything together, I thought the batter looked pretty runny, so I went back to her recipe to double check my measurements.  And, there at the bottom of her recipe, I noticed a little warning about Bob’s Red Mill almond flour NOT being recommended.  Guess which kind of almond flour I bought.  Sigh.  So, I decided to try making some adjustments on my own.  I added probably another half cup of almond flour to the batter (I essentially used the entire bag of flour.  Hey, I didn’t want that little bit of leftover flour anyway.) and then baked the cookies longer than I normally would.  The cookies were still extremely tender after 2 minutes of cooling, so I let the cookies cool completely on the pan. This made it possible to get the cookies off the pan without them falling apart.  As far as taste, they taste pretty good.  They don’t taste like normal sugary chocolate chip cookies, but they’ve got a pretty good flavor.  The dark chocolate chips are a lot more noticeable in these cookies than regular chocolate chips are in normal chocolate chip cookies.  The texture is really different too, but in a good way.  These cookies are not crisp and light, like we were taught cookies should be and like we’re used to eating.  They’re soft, dense, and curiously chewy.  With this particular flour, you can really feel the bits of almond in there.  So, I’d say these cookies are a winner, I’ll just make sure to get the correct brand of almond flour next time!

In the Craft Room

There isn’t a whole lot of new stuff going on in the craft room, but I did finish a few projects.  I spun up some 1-ounce dye samples from last year’s spinning guild dye exchange and came up with this light worsted weight yarn.   I really liked the way it came out, but had no idea what I was going to do with it.  After visiting with Kristine at Three Wishes (one of my local yarn stores), I decided to knit it into a Gothic Revival Shawl.  I was concerned about the yarn looking too busy, but I think that it will be alright.  It will look more blended, overall, from a distance.  The shawl is knitted up but still needs blocking.  I’m hoping to get to that this week sometime, I just have to find someplace to block it that the cats will leave it alone.

Also finished in the last week is my Mondo Cable Pulli.  Finally, a sweater that came out perfectly!!!  Now, this does not mean that there aren’t mistakes in there, I’m sure there are some.  No, my definition of perfect is that it fits(!), I like the color, I like the way it feels, and I like the way it looks.  I’m soooo happy with this sweater!  It was a lot of fun to knit and the Malabrigo yarn is really soft.  I know it will probably pill, but I’m so happy with the sweater that I don’t care!  The only difficulty I had with it was the ribbing at the bottom.  I knitted it too loose the first time around and this made it flare out a bit.  So, I ripped it back and knitted it again with smaller needles.  It still curls up a little bit and, if I really wanted to, I could rip it back again and try a different rib pattern (a 4 x 2 rib as opposed to a 4 x 1 rib).  I’m not that upset by the curling.  I might try basting on some grosgrain ribbon to help hold it down or maybe baste in (very loosely) some elastic thread, but I’ll probably just try steaming it first, if I ever take it off!

Well, that’s it for today.  The sun is still shining out there and it’s still warm enough to sit outside.  I think I’ll go sit on the porch and bask in the warm sunshine and enjoy the smell of spring in the air.

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I’ll start out by warning you that this post will be long and full of pictures.  What can I say?  There’s been a lot happening here at the homestead.   So much that I’m feeling a little dazed by the whirlwind of activity.  I’m also feeling a bit hyper, but that might be the caffeine.  So, let’s start with the Olympics.

Olympics/Ravelympics

Finally, the Olympics have begun and with them the Ravelympics.  After waiting anxiously for weeks to begin my Ravelympic projects, the opening ceremonies marked the mass cast-on for knitters and spinners (and weavers and dyers, etc) all over the world!  Wahoooooo!  I decided to start with my spinning project and spun for approximately 30 minutes before switching over to the knitting project, clearly too excited to sit with any one activity for too long.  I was, of course, expecting to hear/see the opening ceremonies as I started my projects, but NBC, for some unknown reason, decided to time delay the broadcast, so my first hour of spinning and knitting was done while listening to the pre-ceremony spiel.  That was something of a let down, but that just meant I could concentrate a bit more on my projects and could play with the other Ravelers in group chat rooms.  =)

As of tonight (Saturday night), my progress is as follows:  Spun:  Maybe an ounce of the nearly 8 ounces I need to spin.

Ravelympics Spinning

Knitting:  The top back of the sweater is knit and I’m beginning the front left and right panels.  The sweater pattern is Slinky Ribs in the Custom Knits book by Wendy Bernard.

Ravelympics Knitting

Fleece Study Group

My fleece study group met today.  This was my first time attending, so I was feeling a little shy.  Of course, I had an absolutely lovely afternoon with the women in the study group.  Silly me, feeling shy about meeting with other fiber friends!  Sarah M. was a wonderful hostess.  Thanks, Sarah, for opening up your home to us!  A couple of us scoured some fiber samples and we all compared notes on various methods of scouring.  Luli had brought numerous hand cards and combs for us to practice with and showed us how to use the combs.  Cayenne showed us how to use hand cards.  I had brought some washed Polwarth

Carded Polwarth

that I started carding and Sarah had some extra Wensleydale samples that she had scoured for us so we could practice carding that during the get together.

Washed Wensleydale Fiber

A sample of the Gotland I washed

Here are a few more pictures from the fiber study group.

Carded black Wensleydale

I have a few more pictures from the fleece study group, but I should probably ask those in the picture if they mind having their pictures on my blog.  =)  I should also mention that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Sarah’s dog Alex!  What a sweetheart!

In The Kitchen

The culinary adventures continue as I cook and bake my way through Simply in Season.  This week I made Carrot Cookies and Hazelnut Coffee Brownies:

Carrot Cookies


Hazelnut Coffee Brownies (yes, there is a piece missing!)

and here’s what’s left of the Winter Borscht:

Winter Borscht

The Winter Borscht was a beef borscht and gets its red coloring from beets.  Cooking this was a journey back in time to my childhood.  It brought back memories of my grandma (on my dad’s side) and her house, of jars of borscht being bought at fall festival, many meals of borscht at the same fall festival and MCC sales, and, of course, meals at home.  I was not a huge fan of borscht growing up, but it tastes much better now; warm, filling, and full of memories of home and family.

So, that’s it for today.  Tomorrow is more knitting and spinning, some time out on the town with The Husband to celebrate Valentine’s Day (for me), probably the NASCAR race (for him), and more time in the kitchen.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and Valentine’s Day!

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It’s been a busy week this week and I’ve finally got a free afternoon to do a quick dye project.  My spinning guild has a dye exchange once a year in February and this year’s theme is natural/garden/kitchen dyeing.  Last year I tried a project I had seen on Ravelry where fiber was dyed with black beans.  I then knitted the dyed fiber up into this hat:

I brought the hat to a guild meeting and was rewarded with oohs and aahs, and an invitation to explain the dye process for the next year’s (that’d be this year now) dye exchange.  Now, if I just talked about the black bean dye project, that would take about 2 minutes.  So, I decided I should have more information to talk about and now have about 5 examples to share.  Sigh.   Anyway, I spent this afternoon prepping the fiber and mordanting it with vinegar and then preparing the dye by smashing dried and frozen elderberries (at least they looked as if they had been dried and frozen, although there was a bit of moisture content still in the berries) and then simmering them for an hour and then adding the fiber for another hour.   Here’s the fiber so far:

The fiber will sit in the dye pot overnight yet and then I’ll give it a rinse with some vinegar water and see how it turns out.

I’ve also been knitting socks this week.  I completed a pair of handspun socks out of BFL.  The fiber was dyed by Meghan from the StitchIt Podcast and is called Clematis.  Isn’t it a gorgeous purple color?

After finishing the Clematis socks, I started on some plain vanilla socks out of TOFUtsies.  The first sock is finished and I’m working on the gusset on the second sock.

The label says that the color is a limited edition Power Stripes.

So, lots of sock knitting getting done, which is a good thing because the 2010 Ravelympics are coming up and I need to get stuff off the needles so my needles are free for whatever events I’m competing in.  I’m on two teams, Team Sasquatch (a combination of podcasts:  Stitch It, The Knitmore Girls, The High Fiber Diet, and KIPing it Real) and the Manic Purl team.  The events list hasn’t been posted yet, but so far I’m thinking of competing in a spin to knit event (probable fiber to sock) and a project event.  I was thinking I would just do something easy like socks or mittens.  But then last night I was struck by the crazy idea that I might just be able to make a sweater in 2 weeks.  Nuts, right?!  Still, they suggest picking something that is a bit of challenge for you and this would definitely challenge me.  I’ve got the pattern picked out from the Custom Knits book by Wendy Bernard.  The sweater is Slinky Ribs.  It’s a short-sleeve sweater, but I think I’ll probably lengthen the sleeves to three-quarters length.  I’ve got some yarn picked out in a natural gray color from Marr Haven Wool Farm, just have to put in my order.  Woohoo!

Speaking of spinning, I’ve got the first month’s fiber from the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club.  It is a Falkland wool in a new colorway called Awakenings.  At first I didn’t like how it was spinning up as the colors were blending in what I thought was a weird way.  I decided to put it aside until the next day.  The next afternoon I started spinning again and it looked much better.  Must have been a matter of expectations.  I thought the colors wouldn’t look good if they blended, but after deciding to give it a try, it actually looks really good.  Of course, I still have to finish spinning the singles and ply it.  We’ll see how it looks plied up.

And finally, here’s what I’ve made in my kitchen this week.  I’ve made roasted Moroccan chicken, recipe made up on the spot including tomatoes, garbanzo beans, chicken (of course), salt, pepper, cinnamon, and dried apricots.  I had planned to eat this over rice, but then noticed a spaghetti squash that needed to be eaten and decided that was close enough and probably better for us.  Last night I made a sauerkraut sausage soup with onions, mushrooms, dill weed, left over turkey and turkey stock from Christmas, carrots, celery, cream of mushroom soup, etc.  Very yummy.  I’ve also made fresh bread in the bread machine twice this week (one currently baking) and made chocolate chip cookies and a coconut cranberry granola (photos below).

Whew, I’ve been busier than I thought!  Time to go rest for a bit and enjoy some leftover sauerkraut sausage soup!

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