Friday, March 28, 2008

Grandma Time

I haven't posted for a while - been very busy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book Meme

MeTyme tagged me a few days ago. I've never done one of these before but here goes.

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 (or more) pages.

I'm Proud of You, my friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan

2. Open the book to page 123 and find the 5th sentence.

By then it was clear how priceless such mementos of my brother would soon become.

3. Post the next 3 sentences.

The previous spring, Steve had made it through the hockey season as coach of Timmy's team, but only through a fierce act of will. He fought hoarseness and terrible chest pain at every game and practice. In late March he found blood in his stool.

4. Tag 5 people.

I'll leave it to you to tag yourself if you want to participate.

The Compadre borrowed this book from Eric's Mom a long time ago. We need to return it and the Compadre insists that I read it first because it's such a good book. So it sits on the table by my chair and I feel guilty that I haven't read it and returned it. (I'll send it soon, I promise!) Mr. Rogers birthday is on March 20, he would have been 80 years old. There is a movement on to wear a sweater in his honor - I'll read the book too. But I know I'm going to cry. It's not a book about him - it's a book about his friendship with the author and how much it meant to him. And when I'm on my way east to see Amy, Abigail and Eric I'll be wearing a sweater! Yes the Compadre will be holding down the fort again. My sister, my nephew and I are going to spend "spring break" at a condo in Delaware and Amy and Abigail are joining us. Baby holding time!!! (The Compadre doesn't have enough vacation time to join us - the hazards of changing jobs).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Victoria's Bread

This week I finally used a cookbook that I asked for and got for Christmas. I read about the book on one of my favorite foodie blogs Farmgirl Fare and promptly put it on my wish list. My daughter gave it to me and it’s taken this long to get around to using it. I won’t wait so long to try it again though. Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno is a fabulous book. It is detailed, with lots of pictures and even a novice breadmaker would find it easy to make a great loaf of bread following the recipes in this book. I’m not a novice. I made all the bread for the 6 of us when the kids were young using my trusty kitchen aid mixer – that’s by the way still going strong these 32 years later! I stopped making every loaf for us when I went back to work outside the home but then I was making bread for hundreds of school lunches instead!

I’ve gotten in a rut with my favorite bread recipes and it was good to try a new one. I made Victorian Milk Bread, and this one was so good that it’ll be my new rut, until I try another one from the book! Of course I couldn’t make this one straight up – that would be asking too much. I substituted dry milk powder for the liquid milk because then I could just toss it in with the dry ingredients. I also used instant yeast for the same reason. I also baked in a crock that I got a few years ago from Redwing Stoneware Company in Redwing, Minnesota. We had stayed at the Round Barn B & B and Bread. A lovely place to stay by the way. They serve their bread at breakfast in a crock like this and of course I “needed” one too. Took me several years to actually try it out. It’s a fun way to bake the bread. Looks cool as it’s baking and when it’s turned out too.

So here’s my adapted version of Victorian Milk Bread

I used:

About 2 tsp instant dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup dry milk powder

3 ¾ cups flour (the recipe specifies bread flour but I used all purpose, it’s what I had)

1 ½ tsp salt

And I glazed it with 1 egg mixed with 1 T milk

Since I was using my mixer I put the water in first and then added the sugar and salt to the water. Then I put the flour on top and put the yeast on top of the flour. The instructions in the book tell you to use your paddle to mix the ingredients first and then switch to the dough hook. I’ve never done that and it might take a little longer for the ingredients to combine or I might have to help it along with a rubber scraper (turn off the mixer first!) but I didn’t want to have to fuss with changing the paddle. To each their own sense of what’s too much bother though! I misread the recipe and originally put 3 ¼ cups of flour in because - and here’s my one beef about the book – the printing of the numbers was too small for my “old” eyes. I ended up adding more than called for because the dough was so sticky. It does say that the dough should be sticky but my dough – well really – it was Sticky! It all turned out well though and the bread disappeared quickly. The Compadre is a real bread lover and I love a fresh loaf too.

I heartily recommend this book and this recipe.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tatting and China Painting

I’ve been tatting like a fiend to get ready for the mini craft sale this coming Sunday. I don’t know how much, I’ll sell but like Kelly said, at least it’s incentive to increase my inventory. I’m a horrible procrastinator. I always leave things until it’s too close to the deadline. It’s a problem I’ve grappled with all my life. Oh, the things I could have accomplished had I started earlier. Sigh.

But I did start earlier than sometimes for this craft sale and I’ve had more time because I’m not working. So I’ve gotten a few more earrings done. The folks at open knitting at Double Ewe liked them. Yesterday I looked through my pattern collection for new ideas and came up with a cross pattern that I adapted with beads. I started with Eliz’s Small Cross and only did the middle of the pattern and I added beads at the ends. For such a small thing it was a lot of fiddlyness and trouble to do. I suppose that, as with all things, it will get better with practice.

If you live in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) and would like information about the mini craft sale you can e-mail me at anncrafts (at) comcast (dot) net. Substitute the appropriate symbols in the right places. I’ll e-mail you the details. The others are selling felted bags, quilted items and Mary Kay cosmetics. I’ll have as many earrings as I can make and some other tatted items and some knitted dishcloths. It should be fun. Michelle is having refreshments and a prize drawing too. Sunday March 16 from 12 to 4.

When Miss T came for tea and knitting last week, she brought me some wonderful tea. (And no I’m not doing the ABC along thing and besides it’s not the right time for the letter T). Her husband brought it back from Ireland and she said it’s not available in the US. I love tea and I’m kind of a tea snob. So you tell me that this wonderful tea isn’t available and it’s a challenge to me. I googled it and you can get it, if you order it online from England or Ireland. I was almost about to do so when I looked at the shipping charge and then calculated the exchange rate. No, $28.00 for 160 teabags is really too dear, m’dear. So if anyone knows a source for Punjana tea in the US let me know. It’s wonderful tea – thank you Miss T for creating another obsession! Must. Find. This. Tea. At a reasonable price of course.

I’ve mentioned before that I take china painting classes. I’ve been working on several items lately and my teacher has been sending us home with homework! Last week I was at the retreat so I was a bad student and didn’t do my homework but this week I need to catch up. We’re doing a bowl as a group and then I’m working on a heart shaped plate for Abigail. So far both are looking good but I have several more firings on each. I'm going to put Abigail's name and birth date on the middle green area and I have much more pen work to do on the bowl. And then there is the fun project. I was trying out a new technique on the banding wheel and then I decided to add the penwork. I don’t know if I like it or not but it was fun to make. I’m thinking of writing a quote around rim. Hmmm. Maybe that would make it just over the top – if it isn’t already!

Poor Campadre, beads and thread all over the table so that we have to be like the mad hatter and move to other places to eat. I’m working on clearing the table in my fiber room so I can work in there but you know how it is. If there’s a horizontal surface free it gets full of all the stuff that has no other place to live. So, for now I filled the dining room table too! I wonder, do messy people really get more work done or do they spend all their time looking for things. I sure have found a bunch of lost stuff on the table in the fiber room. Now to get to work…

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lace Retreat 2008

I had a fabulous long weekend at the 2008 retreat of the Minnesota Lace Society. We were there in conjunction with the Ladyslipper Needlearts Guild so there were about 9 Lace members and the rest were from the Ladyslipper Guild and some friends. Wow, the amount of creative energy that was concentrated in one place!

We were at the ARC retreat center near Osceola, Wisconsin and we took over two large meeting rooms and one very nice living space. The lace members were all in one location - the "house" with kitchen and living room. But we did visit and join the others in the large meeting rooms too. You can see that I'm not the only one that makes a "nest" around themselves while working on a project. Here's Amy and Luci tatting away.

It was last year at this retreat that I learned to use Deb's sock knitting machine and many people were sorry that I didn't bring it again this year. I've since purchased my own but I use it at home and wanted to learn new things at this years retreat. Laurie - the organizer of the retreat - said that it was worth the price of admission last year to see me use the sock machine! Oh, well I'll have to bring it next year.

And learn new things I did. My goal was to learn to tat with beads - particularly the Beanile method by Nina Libin. Amy brought her books and her knowledge and helped me figure out the notation and techniques. Amy had taken a class from Nina at a national lace convention so she was a wealth of knowledge! The black hematite beaded earrings were made from one of Nina's patterns. The pink ones are adapted from a picture on Elizabeth Zipay's site and the purple ones are adapted from a Snowgoose pattern. Now I need to go to the bead store and get some sterling silver earring wires. And make some more...

I always learn so much from all the others at this retreat. Each person is working on a different thing and when you take the time to talk to them you learn so much. I learned a little bit about drapery making from Muriel. I knew Muriel from when I was in the Ladyslipper guild back when it was the Ladyslipper Smocking Guild. We enjoyed catching up on things. And Muriel was a font of knowledge about curtain and drapery making. She's explaining to us how to hang curtain rods made of PVC pipe.

I learned a little bit of sign language. I was talking to Ann (there were 3 Ann(e)s at the retreat) about my hearing loss and told her that I'd like to learn sign language. Turns out she knows it and she made it her mission to teach me some every time she saw me. I think I'm a slow learner because I only got as far as the first 5 letters of the alphabet. We didn't even get into any words. Oh, and I can spell my name. I know that the community college has a class but I'm still hearing pretty well with my hearing aids so I keep postponing checking it out. And really, the Compadre would have to take it also....

I learned how to make boxes out of cards - I'll have to make some so that when I sell some of my earrings I'll have a box to put them in. Sue taught a small demo about card boxes that I stumbled upon right before we were leaving.

I saw amazing projects:

Laurie does crochet with bullion stitch. I wish I had gotten a picture of this when it was spread out earlier. I always think of taking pictures at the last minute!
The tablecloth will measure at least 48 inches in diameter (I can't remember exactly - I should take notes).

This is a log cabin tote bag. Made out of Malabrigo yarn. It just needs to be felted-I wish I could see it done. You all know what a log cabin knitting junkie I am! I'm going to have to try this one. She had a pattern but I know I can do it without one. Stay tuned.

Stephanie made this quilt top during the weekend. Now that's inspiration for me - I have many uncompleted quilt projects. Granted it's a small quilt - but in one weekend! Must. Get. Busy.

I'm already looking forward to next year. Who knows what I'll be into by then!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Some Good Recipes this week

I’m going off to a retreat with the Minnesota Lace Society so my Mystery Cookbook Adventure is a day early. The Compadre will hold down the fort at home. By the way the Swedish Apple Pie from yesterday is one of my Aunt Ann’s recipes. I used a tried and true recipe for company. Although I did threaten Miss T with a cookbook adventure I decided to use the apples we had and make the pie.

I tried two recipes this week but neither one was from one of my unused cookbooks. That’s OK, there’s plenty of time to use those cookbooks in the future. The first recipe is one that I’ve been meaning to try for a while and I just had to plan ahead and get the ingredients. It’s from Pioneer Woman Cooks again and just like the title says it’s going to be a favorite. My man, Compadre, really liked it just like Marlboro Man does. It’s called Marlboro Man’s favorite sandwich. Follow the link for her excellent directions, complete with lots of photos. Pioneer Woman likes butter so you have to suspend your cholesterol counting for this recipe.

The second recipe, is a cheater too. When we go to Sam’s Club on the weekend the Compadre likes to schmooze with the demonstrators. Actually, he likes to schmooze with anyone. I’m the shy one in our team and he’s the one who talks to everyone. Makes is nice for me – I don’t have to get over my shyness, I just tag along with him! Anyway, back to Sam’s Club. One of the demonstrators is named Mike and he usually is in the meat area. Several times he’s been demonstrating ribs and they are so popular that he sells out the rib case! He even wrote up a recipe to hand out to people. Last Saturday as we entered the store the crowd was around Mike as he was handing out ribs and I went up to him and asked if I could put his recipe on my blog as they are our favorite method of making ribs now too. He said he would be honored and so here it is. Mike’s, and our, favorite ribs. I have to qualify this by saying of course Sam’s Club wants to sell their product and so the recipe calls for Canadian Steak Seasoning, but you could use any favorite steak seasoning that you like. Also you can use your favorite barbeque sauce but I always use sauce I make myself. It’s one of my Aunt Ann’s recipes of course so I’ll follow the rib recipe with my favorite sauce recipe. The sauce is a sweet one and has no smoky taste, because I hate artificial smoke flavor – give me the real charred taste anyday. By the way, I cooked the potatoes in the water from the meat, they picked up some of the good onion and meat taste. The recipe is for a crowd size amount of ribs. I used one rack when I made them this week but I've used as many as 3 racks of ribs (just use a big enough pot).

Mike’s Ribs

Cut ribs into 4 inch chunks and place in cold water in a large pot. Drop in 1 large onion, chopped in large chunks and 8 bay leaves.

Bring to a slow boil and boil for 1 hour or until tender. The boiling here is the key, it moistens and tenderizes the meat.

Take out of the water and blot with a paper towel. (I’ve skipped the blotting with no problem)

Sprinkle with Canadian Steak Seasoning or your favorite seasoning and some granulated garlic. Place on the grill meaty side down or on the broiler meaty side up and brown for 3-4 minutes. Turn over, paint with barbeque sauce and season the other side with steak seasoning and granulated garlic. Mmm, good.

Aunt Ann’s Barbeque Sauce

1 cup catsup

½ cup vinegar

½ cup molasses

1/3 cup prepared mustard

2 T. Worcestershire Sauce

½ -1 tsp. Tabasco Sauce

½ cup honey (optional but I always use it)

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and whisk together. Boil a little while. Put it in a bottle in the refrigerator and use as needed. Keeps for months if refrigerated.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Here is a picture of the cutest grandchild in the world in the Sideways Sock Yarn sweater. The sweater looks great and Amy thinks that Abigail will be able to wear it this spring even though it turned out a little large. I also sent the Basic Baby Booties and they are a little large also. But babies grow so fast that I’m sure she’ll be wearing them soon. When I sent these to Maryland I took advantage of a great deal that the post office has. I used a flat rate box and stuffed as much in it as I could. I found that I had some duplicates of knitting books in my stash and sent them to Amy. It’s nice that I have a knitting daughter! She was also homesick for some Malt o Meal hot cereal and it isn’t available out east. Who knew? A large box of it was over 2 pounds. Into the flat rate box it went. The postal clerk remarked that I sure got my money’s worth on that package! Over 7 pounds and it got there in 2 days. I’ll be doing that again. I asked for another flat rate box and have it ready. I put things in as I think of them. By the way there are two sizes and the flatter one actually has a larger volume. The Compadre figured that one out of course.

I started knitting the Domino baby bonnet from Lucy Neatby. I have always been intrigued by domino knitting and this is an easy project to try the technique out. Kelly at Double Ewe is doing it also and her gauge is tighter than mine. Of course neither one of us has checked our gauge out, so we don’t know whose is the right one! I’m making the 6 month size with the idea that it will fit Abigail this fall. It took a little getting used to the fiddlyness of the thing but it’s now almost mindless. I like it. News flash, I measured my gauge and I’m right on.

I’m going to be participating in a mini craft fair in a friend’s home in just a couple of weeks. I don’t have much made to sell yet and of course I always wait until the last minute to put on the burn and get as much done as I can. So I’ve been tatting up a storm, several pairs of earrings and some motifs to put in cards so far. It’s always hard to know what will sell, but if what I make doesn’t sell then I’ll just have more in stock for the next time.

This week is the string bag sale at Double Ewe. I brought my bag last night when I went to open knitting. I filled it quite nicely and still could have put more in. I didn’t need any more yarn but I did want to make a summer sweater out of the Ty Dye (Slant on Nature) and the Market Squares Tote so I bought yarn for them. A few other skeins might have been added to the bag along the way too. One can’t ever have enough sock yarn!

Miss T came over this afternoon to knit and chat. We had a very good time and even got some knitting done too! By the way it's entirely Miss T's fault that the car drove itself to Borealis Yarn the other day, and then a ball of Noro Sock yarn followed me into my car.

I made Swedish Apple Pie and it was sooo good. We enjoyed it plain but you could put whipped cream on it or even ice cream. You can see we ate it so fast that I had to photograph it partially gone.

Swedish Apple Pie

about 6 apples cut up and put in a 9" pie pan (to fill it about 2/3 full)

1 T. sugar

1 T. cinnamon

1 Cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 stick butter, melted

1 egg

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples in the pie pan. Mix together the cup of sugar, flour, melted butter, egg and walnuts. Spread over the apples. The batter will be very thick - I used my fingers to spread it over all the apples. Bake 45 minutes. Let rest on a cooling rack for 1 hour before cutting. Enjoy!