Monday, September 21, 2009

New baby, new sweater

It's been ages since I updated!. This is just a quickie to show off the sweater I'm making for SIL's baby due in November. I never made anything for the new niece in California when she was born in March, so that will be the next project. If I haven't burned out from getting back in the swing with knitting, then the things for the nephews will be forthcoming as well.

But on to the current project! I'm making the hooded version of Daisy from
baby sweater
As you can see, I've nearly finished one side and am halfway through the back. Since it's for an infant, it's pretty fast going. Plus it's a dead easy pattern so I can knit on the T in the morning when I'm half asleep.

That's it for now. More when I'm further along on this project.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Picnic in the Park

Spouse wanted to have a picnic tonight, but since we had no picnic basket, I balked. Goodwill to the rescue! He found a never-used (tag still on, utensils still sealed) basket with plates, cups and utensils. So I prepped a meal and off we went to Dorchester Heights with a blanket and food.
Martin on blanket
Here is Spouse relaxing before the meal.

Sure is sunny!
Me squinting in the sun.

Remains of the meal

Spouse confirms the time of the historical places bike ride he's going on tonight (it's midnight-6am and goes 30 miles)

Getting shoes on to head back down the hill to home

Sunset over Dorchester

And if you're interested, the meal was a caprese salad (tomato, basil and onion all local), oven chips with salt and rosemary (local potato), carrot and leek gratin and cod poached in proseco with rosemary, garlic and lemongrass.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Preparing for Winter

Spouse wants to have veggies put up this year. He says having food in the cupboards makes him feel secure. Unfortunately it's not a good tomato year what with the blight, but we're thinking of at least having pickles (especially since he ate the last of the cucumber refrigerator pickles this morning.)

So my mission for the rest of the growing season will be to gather and properly can things. I'm thinking cucumber pickles, pickled green beans and picked beets. If I can get some tomatoes at a decent price, I'll put a couple of jars of those up too. Brandied peaches seem to be calling my name as well, but they have so much sugar. Maybe I could substitute larger quantities of brandy to preserve them *hic* Ponder.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Soup is good food

Yesterday I picked up some heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market with a plan for summer soup. I fear the blight will make tomatoes scarce and expensive later this summer, so I thought I'd try this out while I had the chance (gone is the day when the non-heirlooms went on sale at the market for $1/lb!).

In spite of the heat, I decided to roast the tomatoes. I quartered (or sixthed if they were larger) them and placed cut side down on an oiled baking sheet an broiled for 15 minutes until the skin was partially blackened. While that was going on, I threw some sliced onion (also from farmers' market) in a pan to soften and partly caramelize. I removed about a third of the onion and then added the tomatoes, chopped, and some jarred roasted red peppers. About a cup tomato and some red pepper was left aside. The last thing to go in were a few big cloves of garlic I fished out of my pickle jar (did I mention I made pickles last week?) and set it all to simmer until flavours mingled and garlic softened. Poured soup into blender and puréed, then poured back into pot with reserved veg. A splash of light cream to bring it all together and it was ready to serve! Soup was served with fresh Thai basil and mozzarella on top with crusty bread on the side.

Sadly, I can't find my digital camera so was only able to take film pictures. If any come out (I'm still having issues winding my own film to develop) I'll scan them in and edit this post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Camera!

This is totally random, but I just bought a new camcorder and had to test it as soon as I got home. Here's a video of my cat Barnaby. Ignore the lame commentary.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Spouse is Home!

And he looks even skinnier! He said he had to hold his pants up going through security because they made him take off his belt. During his 4 hour layover in Paris, he left the airport and did a whirlwind tour of the city which included buying me a croissant. Do I have the best spouse or what? We ate it in Logan before getting a cab home.

It's so nice to have him back.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns with maple glaze
Spouse is flying off to Spain tonight for 10 days. This seemed to inspire some nesting instinct, prompting me to make two dozen maple-glazed cinnamon buns. What the hell am I going to do with all of these?

Spouse has gone off to give four of them to a sick friend. My stepfather is staying over tonight after the Sox game so we can have some for breakfast before we head up to Vermont tomorrow. I think I'll freeze four or six and just bring the rest up to Vermont to make other people fat.

far too many treats to have in the house
But boy do they look, and taste good!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More gardening

We started planting yesterday. All the seeds we had went in and we're waiting on the tomatoes and cukes to grow in the greenhouse and some potatoes and flowering herbs are on their way.
Here one of the students plants some nasturtium seeds in a corner plot. Two mounds for pumpkins and decorative gourds also went into the corners (two opposite corners. the potatoes and peas go in the other two corners) and the flowering herbs will be placed there too. The rest of the crops will be:
mesculin greens (I didn't check the seed pack, but isn't that a variety of several types of greens?)
pole beans

Friday, May 01, 2009


The student environmental group at work asked if we could start a garden. After bringing it to a few people in charge and talking with people who actually garden (none of them do) they got permission and space was allotted. This then became a community project, with anyone allowed to join in. A good thing too since the students don't tend to be around during the summer!

Last week I joined two staff members in one of the campus greenhouses to start some seeds. The garden space had been marked out and there was even a ground breaking ceremony with blessings and everything (I missed all that). Then the landscaping department came in to take up the sod and turn the soil for us. Hooray! Less back-breaking work for us! A garden planner came in to help set what should go where (this is WAY more professional than anything I've ever done in the yard) and then we were all set to get to work

Today I went out and met up with two of the students working on the plot. The plan was to mark off beds and start the planting, but we decided to get the rest of the compost on first. About halfway through doing that, it really started to look like rain so we decided to start marking the corner beds while we could, then save the rest of the compost until after that, but before marking the inner beds. We hadn't gotten the first bed marked before the rain started. So I sat my ass down on the grass and waited from one of them to come back with some scissors to snip the string and let the drips fall down.

We got the four corners marked and I headed back to the office as another student came to join them. The plan was to move the reset of the compost and see what more could be marked off, but planting might have to wait until Monday. Still, work was done and thing looks like it's finally, really happening.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Good Housekeeping

I have become far too obsessed with the archive of Good Housekeeping at Cornell. I just wish more of the earlier years had indexes. Does anyone remember how to look up subjects in periodicals before the web? I'm almost too embarrassed to ask one of our reference librarians. I haven't looked up things and gone to microfilm (the old way) in decades.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Got (soy) Milk?

IT took a while to get my hair up decently and the snood pinned down. Fortunately I had an extra four hours this morning since the office wasn't opening until noon.
me in snood with soy milk

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I managed to finish my snood and it turned out too large and kind of lopsided. Undeterred, I decided to try the second pattern listed using a smaller yarn. It worked out much better!
Here it is from the side in color. It's a charcoal sock yarn I bought to darn my favourite sweater (that I haven't managed to actually do yet.)

And here is my hair all tucked up (and my new cardigan from the Goodwill) with whispies flying everywhere. Sepia toned for your vintage pleasure.
Hairspray can be a wonderful thing. Try it sometime!

And the side again
Do you like my snood?

And for reference of just how much hair I'm hiding under there (and how copper it is right now):
Not Rita Hayworth

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chips, Sausage and Mushy Peas

Spouse gives his opinion on the dinner

I put the chips on a preheated cookie sheet in a very hot oven right after they drained and they were much crispier! I think Ill try the double frying next (which sounds like how you do plantains) and see which method I like best. The oven one seems like it might be easiest though, but two swims through hot fat sounds tastier.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snoody McSnoodster

I made a snood last week using this vintage pattern but still need to put the elastic in. I'll take pics of it on and my hair done when I've got it ready for prime time. Snoods work up really quickly. I think if I like how it looks on me, I'll make a few more as a stash-busting project. They go quicker than the kids' toys (that I have no picture of :( ) I made for the nephews.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I seem to be in a Pinter play all the time

Interior apartment, afternoon
Me: There's still bread. You should eat some.
Spouse: What?
Me: Bread. There's bread.
Spouse: You want me to eat some bread?
Me: Yes, I'm hawking bread at you. You don't have to eat the small piece. I'll use that in meatballs.
Spouse: What?
Me: Meatballs.
Spouse: Oh. Meatballs.
Me: There's granola too.
Spouse: How much ingredients are left.
Me: I used all the flakes but there's lots of fruit (holds up containers of dried fruit)
Spouse: Lots of fruit left.
Me: Yes, it will be good for hot cereal.
Spouse: What?
Me: Cereal. Hot cereal. Porridge, Cream of Wheat.
Spouse: Oh.
Me: You know, the longer we live together, the more we sound like Pinter characters. You know, how the dialog is always stilted, and people talk over each other.
Spouse: (raising foot) Pull my foot.

Yes, I swear this conversation happened today (hell, every day). It was actually longer, but would probably work better on stage than page.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You want *what* for dinner?

I came home tonight, through the freezing rain and ice and puddle-filled sidewalks, and pondered dinner. Spouse said he wasn't feeling great (headache) and wasn't that hungry but I asked him what he wanted and ran down a list of things we had: sausages, Quorn fillets, cabbage, potatoes, baked beans. He said sausage, beans and chips would be fine. Excuse me? Chips? Did I at any point mention chips? No, I didn't, but I did say potatoes and to an Englishman that's just chips-in-the-raw.

Well, I wasn't opposed to a bit of a challenge tonight, so I pulled out the old Fanny Farmer again. It failed me on boiling eggs on a modern range, but I figured something involving deep frying had to be easier. Scrub, slice, soak, boil, cool, dry, fry. Easy-peasy.

How do you make crispy chips? Can anyone tell me this? Everything seemed to go well, and they tasted great (spouse: Ooo! It smells lovely! Me: That's hot fat.) but were soggy. I drained them and kept them in a hot oven while I did the several batches, but even right out of the fat they were kind of soggy. Spouse said they were like what one makes in England, so I don't think it was an issue of the potato variety (I used Russet as we don't have King Edward), so maybe it was fat temperature? I really don't know.

Still, this was my first chip (fry, French-fried potato, whathaveyou) making experience. The Englishman approved, so I guess it was a success.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Make-do and Mend

I feel like such a slug today for having stayed in my jammies (nightie and bed jacket set, actually, that I picked up at the vintage shop the day before the big job loss). I put a skirt and coat on over them when I had to go out to buy cat litter!

Although I have technically done things today. I finally sat down to start ending my winter coat (vintage swing coat bought about 3 years ago) since both armpits have torn and the lining is just a mess. I managed to fix the pits and some of the lining, but am putting of the really long seaming until next week. I'm hand-sewing, so it's a big production.

After I'd finished the first arm, spouse called me in to the office to remind me to put up his dry-erase board. He just bought it yesterday to help him plan (he's a big note taker) and asked me to put it up since I am Keeper of the Drill. He bought me the drill the Christmas before we married (to shocked looks in the family when I opened it) and I don't get much chance to use it. Yes, he could have easily put the board up himself, but was nice enough to offer me the task so I could use my tools. What a nice spouse!

Oh, did I mention the marmalade made from the left-over clemetines? Yeah, that's simmering on the stove right now, soon to go in to sterilized jars (I'm canning). We're not a big jam household, but I couldn't let those thing go to waste. It tastes very different from proper marmalade made from Seville oranges, but it's not bad now that I've added everything under the sun to it (pureed dates for sugar, some Cointreau for more orange flavour, frozen peaches that were lurking in the freezer.) I think it will make a nice toast topper and perhaps filling for a Victoria Sponge. And I was doing my roots with half of the last bit of henna in the house while all this was happening.

On the rationing front (Home Front?), I've gotten our rationing amounts for the first three weeks. I decided that Week 1 would be 1940, Week 2 1941, etc. There was some fluctuation during the years, especially with the sugar ration. I'm not too worried about that one though since we don't use much to begin with, and it's something I tend to buy in bulk anyway. For Week 1, we are each allowed to purchase the following:
Butter 2 oz +2 oz marg
bacon OR ham 4 oz
sugar 8 oz
meat 1 lb 3 oz or 540 g
tea 2 oz (57g)
cooking fat 2 oz
cheese 2 oz

I've decided that since we can't typically buy 2oz of cheese, (although 4 would be perfectly fine for both of us), if a purchase has to be made that's over the amount for two people, say a pound of butter, that cancels out that item for each of us for future weeks as well. Once we have the ration available again, we can buy it, but not before. For things like meat, that ration can be used for beef or soy "beef" (seitan, Gimmee Lean beef, etc), the same goes for bacon. Chicken was not rationed, but often not available, the idea being that you could raise your own. I think I will try to use an equal ration amount for chicken (or vegetarian equivalent for me) a a pound of actually chicken (for spouse) or Quorn (for either of us) tends to last us at least a week anyway.

The ration week went from Sunday to Sunday, so I'm just beginning now. I have a spreadsheet of ration points, but need to coordinate with spouse so that we don't both buy things that go over our two person allotment. Perhaps a Google spreadsheet just so we both can keep track is in order? I'll post our purchases here as well. For now we're living off things currently in the larder.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I've taken to baking bread lately. Spouse lost his job yesterday, so we're looking into budgeting better and the bread would be a good way to economize. It *would* be if we didn't eat all of it in one sitting!

The first batch I made started with a sponge made with commercial yeast, but I kept some back to feed to have a starter around regularly. It' had a bit more commercial yeast put in, but mainly it's running wild now. The starter, plus slow risings is giving wonderful results and tonight's bread was the best so far. I made them in a three loaf baguette pan, but the oven was to steamy to get a really crisp crust.

Baguettes, of a sort
1 cup starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup flour
Mix and let sit over night
In the morning, add:
1 cup warm water, into which has been dissolved sugar cube and 1/2 T salt
3 cups flour (more if needed)

Mix to form a ball and kneed until it starts to feel elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise 2-3 hours. Knock down and let rise again for 2 hours.

Kneed out air bubbles, divide dough into three lumps. Form loaves by pressing dough into a flat oblong, less than the length of the bread pan. Begin on one long side and tightly roll dough into a big snake-like thing. Place on greased baguette pan and repeat with remaining two bits of dough. Cover and let rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 475 (F) and place a pan of water on lowest rack. Once oven is heated, slash tops of loaves three or four times and spray with water. Place bread in oven for 20-25 minutes. After bread is done, turn off oven and let bread sit for further 5 minutes.

I should add that whenever you take out some starter, you need to feed it again to grow more yeast beasties. When I take out a cup, I add anther cup of flour and a cup of water. I still have some commercial yeast (I buy bulk bags o it's not premeasured), so might add a light sprinkle (maybe 1/2 t) to help boot production if I've been making bread often. When I used to do this back in the early '90s, I had about a half gallon of starter in the fridge so never needed to do more than feed it. I've not gotten to that point yet, but hope to work up to it.