Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Second Knit of Christmas

This is the second Tulip sweater that I’ve made and I’m sure it’s not the last. I love this pattern as do many, many, others. Ravelry has 678 listed and it’s in 584 queues. And that’s only the ones listed on ravelry. I enjoyed knitting it both times because of the ever changing colors and its amazing cuteness. It’s also very easy to knit which is a big plus. I’m not against knitting challenging things but I love mindless knitting too. I bought a kit for this one at Yarnover – the big knitting extravaganza that the Minnesota Knitting Guild puts on every spring. The kit came from a yarn shop that I’ve never been to – The Coldwater Collaborative in Excelsior MN. So I used the yarn that the pattern called for in this one – Dream in Color Classy. The yarn comes in huge hanks and the pattern uses many colors so it would be very expensive to make this sweater if it wasn’t for the availability of a kit. My previous one was made with a substitute yarn but still – I had to buy 8 skeins and didn’t use all of any of them so it would be an expensive sweater too. But I will use the rest of those 8 skeins and reverse the order of the colors and make another tulip. Hmmm, maybe with a purchase of one more skein I could make the next size (size 2) for Abigail. I told you I like making this sweater. This one is size 12-18 months and I made one small modification. I used the rest of the blue yarn to add length to the sleeve – the instructions said to just continue on in the purple. I thought that would look strange. I wish that the kit had had more blue because I would have added length to the body of it with blue if I had had some. When I make the size 2 I’ll definitely be adding length in the body.

We took pictures of Abigail wearing this sweater at the last minute before they left for the airport. She was distracted and not very cooperative. I was feeding her cheerios one at a time to keep her happy. What is it about little ones and cheerios? Abigail sure loves them.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The First Knit of Christmas

I sort of put my finishing resolution on hold during the holiday knitting frenzy. It was funny, Miss T asked me if I had any knitting I was doing for Christmas and at the time I said oh, not much, just a hat. That was fatal. I then proceeded to decide to start several more gifts. But I have to say that I did finish all the knitted gifts. The last time I said that I had finished all my gifts the Compadre took issue with me. He did get an IOU for a bathrobe that I’ll sew for him. But hey, that’s not knitting, it’s sewing. So I’m OK. Well, I’m always OK but you know….

So the first thing I did was to re-appropriate the multi directional scarf into a gift. My sister had asked me to make it for her way last February I think and I decided to give it to her for Christmas even though technically we don’t exchange gifts. We do occasionally and this was one. So there.

As I said earlier this was a really fun scarf pattern to knit. And it went fast because there was always another interesting color to start and another triangle to finish and then start and…. The pattern I used wasn’t really the multi directional scarf pattern – I had gotten a free pattern at Amy’s yarn store (no she doesn’t own it, she just spends a lot of time there, just like I do at Double Ewe) but that pattern is so similar to the multi directional scarf that the only difference I could see is that it uses the knit 2 tog decrease instead of SSK. My sister liked it and so I proved that I do sometimes come through on promises to make something. Now I just have oh, about 4 more promises to come through on. You’d think that with all my copious time now that I’m retired and don’t have anything to do that I would get these things done. Hmm, I’ll try harder this year – how’s that for a resolution.

So, I’m going to drag out this Christmas knitting reveal over several posts because then of course I’ll have more to post about. And as far as the finishing of UFO’s I don’t know where I stand. I think I’ll re-resolve to finish as many unfinished items this year as I can. I don’t know if it’s realistic to finish two before starting one. My list contains many very large projects and I’m a short project kind of person. Maybe that’s a clue as to why there are so many unfinished things hanging out around here. So I think that in order for me to stay on task I’ll need to intersperse the large project finishing with some short project success. How’s that for rationalization!

So today my list includes starting that bathrobe that I promised the Compadre I’d make for him. And I’ve got a hat I want to start and a scarf and I want to start to sew some napkins and a cool tatted snowflake I want to make….. What! You don’t believe I’ll ever tackle anything on the UFO list – just you watch. I will – someday.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mmmm, Good Coffee Cake

Amy requested that I make one our family’s favorite recipes for breakfast Christmas morning. It’s called Kwik Peach Kuchen in the Pillsbury’s Bake Off Breads Cook Book. I had already planned to make it and had the canned peaches on hand. It’s one of those recipes that looks really hard but is really easy.

Here is my version of it. By the way this was all that was left when I finally thought to take a picture of it!

Peach Coffee Cake

Prepare the topping first so that you’re ready with it when you need it:

½ c. packed brown sugar
¼ c. flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 T. butter
¼ c. chopped nuts (opt.)

Combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumble and mix in the nuts. Set aside for later use.

Prepare the dough:

2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 pkg. or 1 tsp. bulk yeast
½ c. shortening
½ c. milk
2 eggs
¼ tsp. lemon or orange extract
1 can peach slices (large)

Combine the flour, sugar baking powder, salt and yeast in a largish bowl. (I do this in my kitchen aid mixer bowl and just run the beater for a few seconds). Add shortening, milk, eggs and extract and blend mix for a couple of minutes at medium speed. Spread over bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Dough will be thick. Arrange peach slices on the top pressing them in slightly. Then take that topping that you’ve already made and sprinkle it on top. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in an area between the peaches. It took a little longer in my oven. Enjoy it warm or cold.

Here is how good it is...
Ignore the chatting in the background - they didn't know that I was taking the video.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What happens when I take a break from the computer

I have 473 blog posts to read!! Really. Some people still do post during the holiday mayhem. I didn’t have time. I also have umpteen e-mails to read and some to respond to. Sorry, I’ll get to it soon.

We get visited by the grandchild and her parents.

We have big family gatherings.

We go out of town to visit the relatives.

We make lots of food and eat lots of food. Urp.

We finish the Christmas knitting. Pictures and details in another post. Really – I will this time.

We bring the grandchild and her parents back to the airport and come home and can’t believe how much we miss them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finishing Things

I’ve been knitting. Yes, and I’ve been finishing things too. I can show you some of my knitting but not all of it. I know that my nephew reads this blog – hi Peter! Maybe my nieces read it too? Anyway now they know they’re getting knitted gifts. Of course that’s if I actually finish them!

I can show you the finished red scarf that I sent off yesterday.

And I can show you the tatted earrings that I was going to exchange at the Minnesota Lace Society Christmas meeting but I chickened out because of a snowstorm. Yeah, I know I’m a Minnesotan but sometimes a little discretion is good. Anyway, these are sort of an original pattern. I started with a Snowgoose pattern and added more beads, and then had to alter the stitch count because of the beads. It’s an easy enough pattern – you could probably figure it out from the picture – if you tat that is! I don’t know if I’ve altered it enough to put the pattern here without getting in copyright trouble.

I haven’t started on the baking and the decorations are not up but there is Christmas music on the ipod and I’m still enjoying the season and haven’t panicked yet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Basic Cooking

Well, not much interesting cooking has gone on here since Thanksgiving. I did make pumpkin bars with pumpkin that I extracted with great effort from our Halloween pumpkin. Ree, of Pioneer Woman Cooks, failed me in this one. Her blog post (with pictures so it must be the right way to do it) advised me to bake chunks of my (cleaned) pumpkin in a 350° oven for 45 minutes. I did that and the chunks weren’t even close to done. I baked and baked that pumpkin and finally ended up finishing it up in the microwave. I threw it on a plate and wrapped it in plastic wrap and nuked it for about 8 minutes and it was finally finished. My friend Betty successfully cooked her pie pumpkin in the oven. Smaller pieces and different kind of pumpkin, though. I’m thinking that canned pumpkin is in the stores for a reason. Remind me of that next year – free food is hard for me to resist.

So, I didn’t take pictures of the pumpkin bars – you’ll have to imagine them. My recipe is nothing out of the ordinary but it’s so good that we devoured them in one day. The Compadre brought some to work so that we wouldn’t add too many inches to our middles. Might as well add it to other people’s middles right? The best part of this recipe is the frosting. I could eat it straight. Hmmm, I’ve got enough pumpkin left for three more batches…...

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs

1 cup salad oil

2 c. sugar

1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)

Mix above ingredients in a large bowl. Sift the following and add to above. Stir.

2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ginger

½ tsp. nutmeg

Mix well and pour into a greased and floured 12x18 inch pan. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

Frost with Cream Cheese frosting. Will freeze well.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (6 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

¾ stick butter

1 T. cream or milk

1 tsp. vanilla

4 c. powdered sugar

Beat cheese, butter, vanilla and cream together until soft. Add powdered sugar until correct consistency.

I’ve also been diligently working on the recipe book of Aunt Ann’s recipes. My typing speed is getting better and better!! I’ve got about 60 recipes in the book so far. I’m using a cool tool to do it. Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. I like it! It formats the recipes for me and adds them automagically to the index and even came with instructions for downloading a free pdf maker so that I can bring in a pdf file to the printshop when it’s time to print copies. I’ve printed a prototype and it looks great. Now I just have several hundred!! more recipes to enter and I’ll be done. Recipes are hard to type – a little thing like accuracy is so important.

I did have several people ask me how I make turkey soup with the turkey carcass. I know this won’t help you until you have another reason to cook a turkey but some people have turkey for Christmas too. Anyway my method is pretty simple. I bone the turkey (leave a little bit of meat on the bones) and throw all the bones into a big pot. Fill the pot with hot water from the tap and add onions and sliced celery. I boil this for a while – maybe a couple of hours and then remove the bones to cool on a plate. After they’ve cooled I pull off all the meat on the bones and put it back into the soup pot. Then I add rice and sliced carrots and boil for some more time – maybe another hour or so. Season with salt if needed (Anita didn’t need salt because they brined their turkey) and pepper. This year I added some garlic from my big jar of minced garlic in the fridge and it was good. I’m not giving amounts here because it depends on how big your turkey is and how big your pot of water is. And besides this is one of those recipes where you can really just use what you have. Some people use noodles, some use frozen vegetables, go ahead go crazy and add whatever you want!

I know I need to get going on the holiday baking. Maybe I should have agreed to participate in that cookie exchange after all. But first I really need to get some baby proofing done and some Christmas knitting done. I haven't started panicking yet....

And why does blogger insist on changing fonts on me at random? Grrr.