Food |Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 10:51 PM

#1 Son in the kitchen
#1 Son in the kitchen

This Christmas we tried something new. Usually #1 Son comes to my house for dinner and present opening, and we watch a movie or whatever and just chill. This year I asked #1 Son if it would be fun if I came to his house instead, and we could cook together and feed which ever of his roommates or friends were around and hungry? He thought that sounded fun, and we planned accordingly.

A couple of days later, he mentioned that his Totally Adorable Girlfriend™ would be in town. I said that she, of course, would be welcome, too.

A couple of days after that, he mentioned that TAGF’s™ father, J, (who lives in Portland), would like us to all come to his house instead. I wasn’t sure if I was really ready for the whole meet the ‘rents thing. But we try to go with the flow around here.

#1 Son still wanted me to come to his house because he’d done massive cleaning and didn’t want to waste it it sounded fun. So the plan became: I go to #1 Son’s house and we whip up an amazing vegetable stew…

getting ready for the feast
getting ready for the feast

Which we take over to J’s house, where he and TAGF™ will have crafted the rest of our feast.

And feast it was! #1 Son and I contributed the stew – amazing stew! – couscous with hazelnuts, and a bottle of wine. J broiled a wonderful halibut dish. And TAGF™ mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, and baked a cheesecake for dessert. All of the food was amazing, and I ate a lot of it. We all did, actually. J was a gracious host and I enjoyed meeting him. I had a very nice time.

There was a bit of present swappage, too.

look! I knit something!
look! I knit something!

Look! I knit something! I finished these just last night, for TAGF™, which means it’s probably the last finished object of 2009.

  • Yarn: Sundara Sock (100% Superwash Merino / 360 yds per 100gm skein) in Basil over Buttercup – less than 1/2 of one skein
  • Needles: a pair of Addi Lace 24″ circular, US#2 (3 mm)
  • Pattern: Merletto Mitts by Jodie Scofield – a free download on Ravelry
  • Modifications: continued cuff ribbing on the palm side all the way up the wrist; fussed with the thumb a little.

I think she likes them
I think she likes them

It appears that she likes them!

When questioned, #1 Son had told me that her favorite color was chartreuse. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not. #1 Son can be a bit of a kidder, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s being serious or not – especially via text message.

This was the chartreuse-est yarn I could find in my stash. All the time I knit I kept fingers and toes crossed that she really did like green. But she assured me that she really does, and her favorite color really is chartreuse.

#1 Son told me that he didn’t even know what color chartreuse was and he’d had to look it up, so there was no way he could have actually been kidding about it.

#1 Son got his big present a few weeks ago, but I gave him a little space heater for his room. He lives up in the attic of a 100-year-old house, and it’s cold in the winter. This one can also be used as a fan without heat, so it will also be useful in the summer when his room is too hot.

a little bling for the ears
a little bling for the ears

#1 Son gave me a bit of bling for my ears. Aren’t they pretty and sparkly! I can’t wait to wear them.

And also a cute little lantern candle-holder to hang outside in the summer.

I don't know what it is but it's pretty cool
I don't know what it is but it's pretty cool

TAGF™ gave me this. I have no idea what it is, but it has lots of little gears that whir and springs that wind and little feet that go around as it scuttles across the table. The geek factor is high and I like it!

I know I’ve been mostly absent, but I’ve had a lot going on the last month or so. Gentle reader, I will tell you all about it in the next post…

Food |Knitting by Judy @ 10:58 AM

Broad Street mittens
Broad Street mittens

This is Secret Project #1 that I have not been able to show you until now. It was the last finished object of 2008. I am modeling these because I wasn’t sure of my ability to get #1 Son to pose. (click the pics to embiggen) They’re a little big on me, but fit him perfectly.

I had really a lot of fun knitting these. I made the thumbs also convertible, because that seemed cool and fun. It took me several tries to get a thumb I liked, but I’m really happy with the way that these turned out.

The buttons were a happy find at Jo-Ann. They are made from a polyresin material that’s flexible, so the buttons won’t break and won’t hurt his wrist if #1 Son bangs them against something accidentally.

#1 Son’s take: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Oh, yes! Do you know how hard it is to find mittens with convertible thumbs? You just can’t get them. These are awesome! And the buttons – how cute are those! And look, I can hang them up by the loops! How did you get them just the right size? [ed. I followed the pattern and crossed my fingers]

Broad Street mittens
Broad Street mittens

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Blue Moon Socks That Rock medium weight Mill End in an unknown colorway that I picked up at Tina’s destashing sale
  • Buttons: JHB Clay Swirl buttons purchased at Jo-Ann
  • Needles: a pair of Addi Turbo 24″ circulars, US#3 (3.25 mm) and a pair of Addi Lace 24″ circulars, US#2 (3.00 mm)
  • Pattern: Broad Street by Janis Cortese
  • Modifications:
    • I ribbed all of the fingers because #1 Son likes the fingers snug
    • I made the thumb also convertible by knitting it in stockinette and ribbing the last 3 rows. Then I followed the directions for the mitten part, except in miniature, to add the convertible part, except I kit the end following the thumb instructions so it would look and fit right. (hope that made sense)

Andean Chullo
Andean Chullo

And this is Secret Project #2 – the Andean Chullo Hat Kit from Knit Picks.

It became the first finished object of 2009 because I was up until the wee hours weaving in little ends that I stupidly did not weave in as I went. And there were a @%#! bunch of them, gentle reader. After sleeping for a few hours, the hat got a very quick steam-block, which fortunately turned out to be all it needed. I sewed the tassels on in between dinner preparations and such. It was finished, photoed and wrapped about an hour before #1 Son showed up for dinner. Whew.

#1 Son’s take: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Mom! you are really rockin’ this knitting stuff! This is the best hat ever, and it fits perfectly. Look at the little alpacas on the earflaps! Too cute! My friends are going to be so jealous. They couldn’t believe all the kitted stuff from you that I wore when it was cold and snowy. [ed. that warms the cockles of my heart! what more could a mom want to hear?] So you had to finish this and is that the reason I couldn’t come up on Christmas? [ed. No! that wasn’t it at all!] Haha… Oh, yeah… there was this snow thing, huh.

Andean Chullo
Andean Chullo closeup

Here’s a closeup of the main body of the hat. I’m using this picture as my iPhone wallpaper now. 😉

The Particulars:

  • Pattern: Knit Picks Andean Chullo Hat Kit
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Pallette included in the kit – 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, 231 yds/50 gr per ball – portions of 9 colorways: Sweet Potato, White, Bark, Semolina, Pimento, Blue, Clover, Masala and Pool. There’s plenty left over for another hat, or two, or three.
  • Modifications: none. Really. The pattern is a choose your own adventure. You pick one of two earflap charts, four of six pattern band charts, and one of two different hat top charts. Colors are suggested but not dictated and I did change one or two.

Andean Chullo inside
Andean Chullo inside

And for those of you just dying to see the inside (you know who you are), here you go.

I’m a two-handed fair-isle knitter — that is I hold one color in my left hand and pick it, and the other color in my right and throw it. Philosopher’s Wool has a wonderful video that shows this technique. Their technique recommends not having floats longer than two stitches. On this hat I have floats up to 5 stitches. Do watch their video if you have not done so before. Their weaving stitches are very cool.

I will probably knit another of these hats and be a bit more adventurous with the colors. The kit came with enough yarn to knit several.

modeling the goods
modeling the goods

Happy #1 Son with his hat and mittens. 😀 He wore the hat for a goodly portion of the time he was here, so I think it was very successful.

I made a pot of chili and a pan of corn bread. We ate and watched Mission: Impossible III on cable – which is way fun when you can cheer Tom on and jeer the bad guys and discuss the physical possibilities of actually doing any of the stunts in real life and why the heck can’t they get a better camera angle than that one and isn’t the technology and aren’t the gadgets just the coolest things ever?

The chili came from a kit that was a gift from one of my cousins. The kit was made by the Women’s Bean Project, a nonprofit organization that helps women to transform their lives and move to self-sufficiency by teaching entry-level job readiness and life skills. My kit came with enough for two batches of chili – one Firehouse and one Mild – and spices for two batches of salsa.

The chili mix comes with the beans and spices, and you add a can of tomatoes, onion and green peppers. I had made the Firehouse chili earlier in the week, and found it very mild and in need of salt. #1 Son and I both like our chili pretty hot, and if that was the Firehouse I couldn’t imagine how mild the Mild would be.

So, besides the tomato, onion and green pepper, I added a bit of salt, a big Anaheim chili and about a tablespoon of dried chipotle chili. ( The kit suggested adding a teaspoon of chili powder if desired. teaspoon… hahahahaha) I’m not sure how much chili I added because I poured it in until I thought it looked like enough but it was probably around a tablespoon.

For some reason the beans refused to soften up all the way – and I’m sure that was cook’s mistake somewhere, although I followed what I usually do with dried beans. But I was also trying to get a hat finished, so I may have been distracted. At any rate, some of the beans had a sort of al dente texture – nice in pasta but not quite what you want in beans. But the chili tasted wonderful! #1 Son ate two helpings and took the leftovers home.

The cornbread was from the recipe on the back of the Albers Yellow Cornmeal box. It’s the recipe I’ve always used – fast, easy, and comes out great.

#1 Son’s take on dinner: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Perfect chili, Mom! Good and hot, but not so hot that it’s not really tasty. What kind of chli did you add? Good choice! And you always make the best cornbread ever! I tell all my friends how good your cornbread is.

Do you think I should tell him what recipe I use? Nah… 😉

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:13 PM

Mama’s recipe box
Mama’s recipe box

Kay and Ann at Maxon-Dixon Knitting are hosting the Grandma Mable Memorial Recipe Box Show & Tell Contest over on their blog. (Head over there for the whole story.)

The cool result of this contest will be a virtual recipe box, full of wonderful things to cook (and eat) from everyone who enters.

Now… one is supposed to post a picture of one’s recipe box. But my recipe box is just a black metal box made to hold index cards that I picked up at some long-ago-forgotten office supply place back in the mid-1970’s. Boring. So I dug a little further into my cupboard.

This is Mama’s recipe box.

Mama was an adequate, if rather uninspired, cook. Meat and potatoes, a green veggie and a yellow veggie. On Fridays the meat was fish, on Sundays roast beef. Mama had a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Each had been purchased for a single recipe that called for it, and then never used again. The family joke was that Bro and I learned to cook because… somebody had to.

So it’s no surprise that this box is not completely full of recipes. At least 1/3 of the cards are resolutely blank.

I have no idea how old Mama’s recipe box is. Inked into the inside of the lid is her maiden name. That dates it to pre-1941. The sticker on the front says Gold Medal Kitchen Tested Recipes. It’s safe to say that most were not tested in Mama’s kitchen. The card on the inside is signed by Betty Crocker.

kitchen tested recipes
kitchen tested recipes

This recipe comes from my Godmother, a wonderful woman who was an extremely good cook and passed several recipes along to both Mama and I. It’s a great way to use up all that extra zucchini in the summer, as even the extra-large ones will be OK.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350-F for one hour.

Grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes

While we’re showing old things from family history, this binder belonged to Grandma (Mama’s mom).

It’s a leather three-ring binder, but very few pages are actually on the binder rings. For the most part, the individual pages and recipes and clippings are just stuck willy-nilly in with no regard for type of recipe. I have no idea how she found anything in it. The gold elastic Christmas present cord is used to hold the whole thing together.

I pulled a couple of items out randomly. The ubiquitous Betty Crocker makes another appearance with a Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe and my Great Aunt Bess’ (Grandma’s sister) recipe for pickle relish has been hand written on a brittle and yellowing piece of note paper from Garrett Truck Lines (no idea why).

One of my favorite items from Grandma’s binder is a little booklet entitled Make It Right With Lard, published by the National Livestock and Meat Board. The picture on the front has the word Lard spelled via holes cut in a pie crust. It contains some nifty tips for cooking with the perfect fat, and recipes for everything from biscuits to ginger snaps. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot imagine ginger snaps made with lard.

I have no idea how old the binder is. The leather is dry and cracking in places. Many of the pages are starting to crumble. Grandma passed in 1980 at the age of 97. She was a wonderful cook and collected recipes her whole life. The binder could have been acquired at any time.

Isn’t it funny how things just skip generations? Grandma and all of my Great Aunts cooked and baked and sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and tatted and embroidered. But neither Mama nor her sister, my aunt G., were cooks. Neither could sew beyond the basics. Neither was into any sort of handcrafting. They had many other wonderful qualities and talents. But not those.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:39 PM

carrot pudding
carrot pudding

The carrot pudding turned out… OK. Here’s a picture of the finished product. I apologize for the partially-eaten pic. You can see that the hard sauce has done its melty thing and all. I had taken a couple of bites when I suddenly realized… oh, $@%#, I forgot to take a picture. So I grabbed the camera and snapped a few and then went back to eating.

It really tastes pretty good.

There are no shots of it lovingly unmolded and resting on some lovely serving dish because it was never actually unmolded.

True confessions time: When it had steamed for the requisite 4 hours, I lifted the mold from the pan and popped the lid off, only to find…

carrot soup.

My old family recipe includes a cup of apple. I used an extra-large Jonagold that was just the right size to produce the right amount of apple when grated. I grated the carrot, so I grated the apple. I missed the tiny print in Mama’s handwriting that said apple, ground. But reading that after the fact sort of brought back memories of Mama sending the apple through her meat grinder — she had an old hand grinder. I have one, too. And the grinding sort of, well… smooshed all the apple juice out of the pulp.

That may have been a good thing to do. Because grating does not have the same effect.

So I stood their in my kitchen and looked at the carrot pudding soup, and wondered what the heck to do. #1 Son was due any minute. Dinner was ready. Eeek! Finally, in desperation, I drained the excess liquid from the pudding mold, added 1 cup of flour or so to soak up what was left, and popped the pudding back in the pan to steam for another couple of hours. It tasted pretty good, but unmolding would have produced a mound of… something… not a lovely pudding.

Note to self: Next year smoosh the juice out. And the carrots could have been grated much, much smaller. Much. Just saying.

#1 Son & his scarf
#1 Son & his scarf

#1 Son loved the veggie stew and the couscous. I think he had 3 helpings. It may have been four. He liked the touch of having a little goat cheese to sprinkle over the stew. I have no goat cheese left now.

I had picked up a loaf of bring-home-and-finish-the-baking bread — an olive Pugliese. #1 Son said, This is awesome bread!. I had two slices. There was none left at the end of the meal, so I guess he did like it quite a bit.

In other words, he, being still a teenager for a few more months at least, still eats like a teenager.

So desert, even though we waited a bit after the meal, was met with some feeling of detachment. But he liked the carrot pudding.

I did not confess the carrot pudding story to #1 Son. We’ll let that be our little secret, eh?

I sent him home with 1/2 of the leftover stew and couscous and an extra loaf of bread. He wandered the house for awhile looking for anything not-nailed-down that could accompany him home.

#1 Son, wandering around kitchen and poking into cupboards:Can I have this French press?
Mom, sitting in her chair and knitting:NO
#1 Son: You never let me take anything and you’re such a packrat.
Mom: NO
#1 Son: How about this Melitta drip coffee pot?
Mom: [sigh] OK
#1 Son: What do you use this for?
Mom: Put it back where you found it.

This picture was snapped just before he escaped with the goods left for the evening. You can see he is in a rather pensive, I suppose you have to take my picture… but I’m not going to smile mood. He would not pull the scarf out of his coat so I could get a decent shot of it, because this is the way they’re worn.

So… OK!

P.S. The snow is all gone. It was sure fun while it lasted, though!

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 2:03 PM
tags: , ,

Christmas snow!
Christmas snow!

The pudding is steaming in the oven. The stew is simmering on the stove. #1 Son will be here soon. And it is snowing.

Snowing! On Christmas! Look! There’s proof!

Where I grew up, it was a strange Christmas that didn’t have snow falling — on the actual day, you know. There was usually already a fair bit on the ground.

Here in Portland… not so much. It’s pretty much the opposite. If we’re lucky the sun shines. If not, it rains. But snow? This is a new and wondrous thing!

May your days be merry and bright.

And may all your Chriskwanzakahfestivusolstices be white.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:36 PM


[ed. 12/25/2007 8:21 am] Thanks to everyone who left a suggestion for how to cook the carrot pudding. Yesterday I tried just one more gourmet kitchen shop, and they had pudding molds! Stay tuned. Film, as they say, at 11 (or so).

Since I became single again, Christmas traditions at Chez PI have been rather spotty. For the first several years, #1 Son spent Christmas with the sperm donor. #1 Son and I would have our Christmas on the day before. We did the tree and decorations and presents and such, but I didn’t usually cook what would be considered a traditional Christmas dinner, although I did cook a prime rib for New Year’s (I have an awesome butcher whose specially seasoned prime rib is simply amazing).

On Christmas – the actual day – my personal tradition was to clean my oven and go to a movie. Lest you feel sorry for me, I actually enjoyed every minute and looked forward to it as a break from the normal holiday madness.

Then came a year when #1 Son would be with me for Christmas from now on. Anything you’d like to do? I asked him. He suggested travel. I asked where. He suggested Las Vegas. And thus a new holiday tradition was born. We spent several Christmases in Vegas, had a wonderful time every year, and it was great.

This year there is no travel. #1 Son just came back from a 1-week tour of California and is leaving for 5 weeks on New Years Eve. He needs to work to earn a bit of spending money before he goes. I have time off, but don’t feel like going anyplace, what with his impending departure and all.

So I am cooking dinner, and that is a bit of a quandary.

I know what to cook for a traditional Christmas dinner. We were a Turkey at Christmas family. Or, I could pick up one of those awesome prime ribs.

But #1 Son is vegetarian.

I scratched my head and pondered for awhile over that one. I didn’t really want to fix all the trimmings and not the main dish. Eventually I settled on what I like to call a kitchen sink veggie stew, which contains all the veggies that looked good in the store the day I go shopping: Carrots, beans, corn, cabbage, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, celery, etc. It always tastes good. And, being a stew, has the added advantage of being serving-time neutral. I can start it in the morning, and no matter what time we eat it will be OK. I could serve it with a raisin/nut couscous (5 minutes) and a good crusty bread.

But I did want something traditional. In my family, carrot pudding was the traditional Christmas dessert. It’s a steamed pudding, like plum pudding or spotted dick. I have the recipe that was passed down through the women in my family for well over 100 years. There have been few changes over the years. I do use margarine rather than suet (thus making it vegetarian safe), but that’s about it. It is, as I said, cooked by putting the batter in a mold, placing the mold in a large pan with water, and steaming in the oven for 4 hours or so. Grandma and Mama both used a coffee can for the mold, which worked quite well.

The coffee I drink does not come in cans. In fact, I’m not sure if any coffee comes in cans any more.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just pop over to the gourmet kitchen shop and pick up a real pudding mold, and won’t that be traditional and oh-so-cool!

At the first gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile and didn’t find the pudding molds, so I stepped up to the counter.

Nice, teenage Christmas kitchen shop worker: May I help you find something?

Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.

NtCksw: Like a jello mold?

Me: No. A mold for steamed puddings. Do you know what that is?

NtCksw: I’m sure I’ve had one at some time. Could you just remind me?

Me: It’s a cake-type pudding that’s cooked by steaming in the oven in a mold. My mother used coffee cans.

NtCksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?

Me: Thanks anyway.

At the second gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice older woman who worked there asked if she could help me.

Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.

NOksw: I haven’t seen one of those for ages.

Me: Do you have anything that might work? My mother used coffee cans.

NOksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?

At the third gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice man who worked there asked if he could help me.

Me (having already cased the store pretty thoroughly): I doubt it, but thanks anyway.

After that, I did what I probably should have done in the first place. I came home and let my fingers do the virtual walking through the internet. I found a local gourmet kitchen shop whose online site showed a pudding mold. They weren’t sure if they had pudding molds actually in stock or not, but promised to look and call me back. They have not called.

So what do I do now? If I can’t find a pudding mold on Christmas Eve, how am I going to cook the darn thing? Do you think, gentle reader, that if I pour it into loaf pans for the steaming, it will cook correctly?

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