Thursday, December 12, 2013

Needles and Gifts

"A little snow was here and there / disseminated in her Hair -- since she and I had met and played / decade had gathered to decade -- "      ~Emily Dickinson

And now, a knitting update.

First is this cabled cardigan, the first sweater I've ever made by myself:

Next is this shawl, which was a birthday present for a very dear friend who's never owned a shawl, anything that was knitted for her, or that was covered in pearls and lace. Obviously these oversights needed fixing:

Something else I recently finished for my mom is this "Ice Queen" cowl with glass beads:

Currently on my needles is this shawl, which I'm calling "Diamonds and Ice":

More to come as projects are finished.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Homemade Candied Fruit Peel

"Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it." - Goethe

It's been several months since my last post. Since then, I've moved across the country, had a lot of personal upheaval, and am finally in a frame of mind that allows for blogging on fun domestic things. I've still been knitting (the only way to keep sane in the midst of said-upheaval), and an update on that will be coming soon.

With Christmas just around the corner, I've decided to try a few new recipes this season, which will also make their way onto the blog. One of them involves candied fruit peel, which I was unable to find at my local market. So, time to whip some up myself.

The recipe I followed can be found at

First, I soaked the peel overnight in cold water:

Then I boiled it, let it stand, and drained it a total of four times...

...then sliced it...

...and candied it...

...and finally sugar-coated it:

 An intensive yet rewarding process.

More Christmas tastiness to come soon...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Life Changing Apple Pie with Cheese Cracker Crust

"I... will ask the Lord to bless me with apple pie and cheese" - Eugene Field

Who doesn't love apple pie? And who doesn't love (or at least highly regard) cheese? If there are any such poor souls in the world (and you happen to care about them), make them this pie, because it will change their lives.

This, my friends, is apple pie with a crust made out of cheese crackers and shredded cheddar cheese. Eat it warm from the oven, and life will never be quite the same.

The pie before putting on the crust

The recipe comes from this book. Make a regular apple pie in a 9-inch pie pan using a single round of pie pastry for the bottom (this was my first attempt at using homemade pastry, and I may never go back to store-bought) and 6 cups of apples. The crust is made out of cheese crackers (I used a white cheddar flavored variety), shredded white cheddar cheese, and butter.

Enjoy (I certainly did)!

*an account of how it changed my life has been requested by interested parties, so here goes:

One minute you're going along, trying out a new recipe for apple pie that sounded pretty good, grooving to some music while chopping apples and mixing dough in the kitchen. You preheat the oven, insert the pie, then wait for the timer to go off.
Slowly and subtly, amazing smells start to waft in fragrant curls from the oven and pervade your home. Sweet smells of fruit, savory smells of cheddar, warm smells of baking crust curl themselves around you like multiple boa constrictors: they will not release you from their grasp until the pie is finished and cooling on a trivet, the cutting knife is in your hand, and a pie plate is waiting nearby. Finally, once it is in between piping hot and room temperature (and there is a glass of milk at hand), you pick up your fork and take a bite.
Instantly life as you know it has changed: butterflies are fluttering overhead, the sun is shining, and you're pretty sure you can hear angels singing. You wonder how you possibly got this far in life without knowing such bliss existed - then you take a second bite.
Life never tasted so good.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sunrise Socks

"What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?" - E.M. Forster

Things are going slowly with the needles n' yarn bag of late, but I did finally finish these socks for myself:

They are the "Jane Bennet" socks from one of the Jane Austen Knits magazines. According to the pattern writer, they are "delicate, pretty socks with not a bad word to say about anyone!"

Since finishing, blocking, and trying them on this morning, I haven't heard any bad words from them yet.

I'll be keeping my ears open, though...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Dream of Canada: Macarons Revisited

"Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin

I've been at it again - baking macarons, that is.

I haven't attempted baking these little beauties since last May, so it's been a while. And I've also changed locations from a humid, dank area to a drier one at a higher elevation, so I was very hopeful about the results.

I pulled out my little macarons cookbook and looked at my options. I've been wanting to do the Maple-Bacon-Bourbon filling for a while now, but was torn over whether to pair it with chocolate or orange shells. A friend whose taste I trust recommended orange, so that was that.

Oh man, was that ever that.

breakfast for dessert, anyone?

These were a stroke of genius. The Maple-Bacon-Bourbon will spin visions of Canadian wilderness and mounties before your eyes, while the orange cuts the heaviness of the maple syrup and bacon.

all lined up

My shells were not the prettiest (hey, I haven't made these in almost a year), but the meringue came out well. While humidity was not an issue, elevation was (being a mile above sea-level will do that). However, adding a generous helping of cream of tartar brought about the desired results.

That is some very happy bacon

Now that I've figured out how to make these in my current location, I will start playing around with more flavor combinations.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Shawls and Skirts

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." - Luke 24:5-6

As previously posted, I gave up on finishing the Evenstar shawl in time for Easter. It is still in progress, and will hopefully be finished within the next couple of months:

the Evenstar shawl in progress

Instead of completing the shawl as part of my Easter ensemble (which I wore while singing in my church's choir at the front of the sanctuary), I took to a friend's sewing machine with the aid of my accomplished seamstress housemate, and made the skirt shown on the left below:

my Easter outfit

The fabric used for the skirt is a cream background with light pink rosebuds. I haven't sewn clothing in a long time, and hope to do more of it in the future.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: Corned Beef and Shawls

"I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity; through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation." - "The Deer's Cry," St. Patrick

a four-leaf clover I found in the pages of an old book

Speaking of confessions, I have a couple to make: first, even though I'm one of those people who are very proud of their Irish descent, I've never made or eaten corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day.

I'll give you a minute to let the shock wear off.



Better? ok - next confession...

The Easter Shawl project is not going to be finished by Easter. I originally thought I would have plenty of time to finish it, but my schedule has become unexpectedly full. This is not a bad thing by any means (and the shawl will be finished eventually), but it does mean that I have to re-think my Easter outfit.
Thankfully, my housemates are also crafty, and have experience sewing clothes. So, I will be making a skirt out of a pretty floral chintz fabric with rosebuds. If all goes well, even though this blog is strictly devoted to knitting and cooking, photos will be going up when it is finished.

Now, back to the much more shocking confession of the corned beef:
I decided that this glaring omission needed fixing, so I made a crock pot version for St. Patrick's Day dinner, which is delightfully simple.

The recipe can be found in this terrific book. If you do not own a crock pot, get one. Then get this book. You'll thank me later.

I've also been remiss in posting about the Princess Kate shawl, which I finished several weeks ago:

the shawl, with my Claddagh mug in honor of St. Patrick's Day


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Easter Shawl Project

"...My soul's form bends to the East. There I should see a Sun by rising set, and by that setting endless day beget." - John Donne

As Lent continues and Easter approaches, I've been searching for a dress to wear when singing with my church's choir on Easter Sunday. Sadly, I've met with a disappointing dearth of options, and have settled on a skirt and blouse that are fairly boring together.

What better way to remedy this problem than to knit a new shawl for Easter, right?

Except that this project probably qualifies me as completely mental:

image credit: Susan Pandorf

This is the Evenstar shawl, which I've mentioned in previous posts and actually purchased yarn for, but have never gotten around to starting. No time like the present, right? Especially when you're casting on one month out from when you need to wear it.

Yep, definitely mental.

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Green Chili and Cheese Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

"For whatsoever from one place doth fall, is with the tide unto another brought: for there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought." - from Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queene"

This recipe was deliciously simple and quick to whip up and bake in an afternoon. I lifted the biscuit recipe from Cozy Kitchen's Chicken Broccoli Casserole Cobbler (which is an entree I highly recommend), and added some green chili. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

You should be able to find canned green chili in the Mexican section of the local grocery store. Add as little or as much as you like (I personally believe there's no such thing as too much green chili, but it's not for everyone).


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monastery Soup and Mardi Gras

"Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood/ teach us to care, and not to care/ teach us to sit still/ even among these rocks, our peace in his will/ and even among these rocks...suffer me not to be separated/ and let my cry come unto thee." - "Ash Wednesday," T.S. Eliot

 I returned to my apartment and housemates, after a long visit with my family, to find one of them sick with the flu. Also, the area of the country where I now live is unseasonably cold, so everything just seemed to be crying out for a good, healthy pot of soup.

Thankfully, I had just brought this book back with me.

The beautiful array of soup recipes in there will not let you down. For dinner tonight, I settled on "Cherbah," a soup from the January list (it felt like January outside - that counts).

It has a beef stock base, with tomatoes, garlic, mint, pimientos and egg yolk, among other things. As my poor, flu-ridden housemate remarked, "it hits the spot."

As today is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), which marks the beginning of Lent, I decided to fry some sopaipillas for dessert (see my previous post from Sept. 2012 about these beauties). Last time I coated them with sugar, but this time my housemates and I drizzled them with honey. I also put some sliced banana on mine:

Happy Mardi Gras!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

"Just when I think she can't get any better at cooking - she gets better" - my dad, after eating some of these poppers

I hit a home run with this recipe - my dad and brother both love spicy foods, so I knew this one had to make an appearance very soon.

Pablano pepper on left, Jalapeno pepper on right

Jalapeno pepper juice will burn your skin, so wear gloves when cutting and seeding them. Pablano peppers are "cooler" than Jalapeno, but every pepper's "heat index" depends on the individual pepper. Use a melon ball cutter to remove the seeds.

For this recipe, you will need:
  • 1 lbs. ground sausage
  •  8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or Parmesan can be used as well)
  • 1 lbs. Jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1-3 finely chopped green onions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Evenly brown sausage in a saucepan over medium heat, drain grease. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, green onion and sausage. Spoon about one tablespoon of the stuffing into the pepper halves. Arrange the stuffed peppers in a baking dish, place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, until light brown and bubbling.

If you're making these for male relatives/friends, you may want to double the recipe.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cardigans, Berets and Bible Covers

"Happy the man, and happy he alone, he who can call today his own; he who, secure within, can say 'tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.'" - John Dryden

What with the holidays, a mission trip and the funeral of a loved one, this blog has been sadly neglected. I have been keeping up with knitting and recipe hunting, and should have more time for both in the next few months, so (slightly more) regular posts should be forthcoming, barring any more unforeseen events.

Now for a knitting update.

I recently made myself a lightweight beret called "Rustling Leaves"

 The yarn is Eidos from the Verdant Gryphon (color name "Nichomachean Ethics." Why a lavender/gray yarn should be named after something that is black and white, I don't know). The pattern can be found here.
This is a nice hat for spring or autumn. You'll need to add extra stitches for a head larger than 22 inches around the hatband.

The cabled cardigan is coming along very well:

One of the front panels

the first sleeve

 It is still in progress, and I'm hoping to finish it sometime this month.

Last but not least is this Bible cover:

This was also made with the "Nichomachean Ethics" yarn (as for the moral implications of making a cover for a book that teaches ethics out of a yarn that is wrongly named after ethics, I choose to classify this project as a "grey area." Please don't throw tomatoes). The pattern can be downloaded from

More to come...