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