Loopy

Yes, yes I am still making the trivet.  Yes, I am having more fun than anyone should be able to have with some felt and some string.  No, I don’t expect anyone else to understand the appeal.  But I’m fairly sure you’re all an obliging lot and won’t begrudge me my odd obsessions.

DSC_0829I started by cutting out three equally-sized rectangles (size determined by setting the teapot on various books until one looked right, and then tracing around that book).  Then I held them together with a few pins and started stitching.  There was no particular plan for the stitching, I just wanted swoops.  Closed swoops.

DSC_0824I’m going to keep going, until most of the fabric is filled with swoops.  Then there may or may not be some snipping away of the top layer of felt inside the swoops to make little holes and let the yellow middle layer show through.  I’m not sure yet.  And really, its goal in life is to keep my teapot from marring my table, so it’s allowed to be somewhat…freeform.

I have, however, discovered that I can work on this for just about precisely 15 minutes before my hand starts to cramp up (erm, and what you see there is two of those 15 minutes stretches of stitching), so it will be a few more days before I have to make any decisions.

 

Not Knitting

I like my dining room table.  And I absolutely adore my teapot.  But alas, the two of them don’t quite get along.  When I set the hot teapot on the table (something that happens about once a day if all is right with the world), it has a tendency to leave white marks on the table.  Now I’ve discovered that these marks come right out if I rub them with a walnut (no idea why, but seems to be true).  But that’s a bit tedious if you do it too often.  And of course I could just set a potholder or a folded up paper towel down first.  But that’s also unreasonably irritating.

So I’ve decided to devise a more suitable solution.  I have a closet full of woolly things, and woolly things are good at managing heat.  This should be fun.

DSC_0803

Bottoms Up

Last Thursday found The Boy and I at an interesting event.  It billed itself as a mixology class/showcase for OYO products.  We’re fans of OYO (stop by when you’re in Columbus, and then walk next door to Brother’s Drake Meadery for some really yummy drinks), and we’ve been known to enjoy the odd adult beverage from time to time, so it seemed like an interesting way to spend the evening.

It was much as promised.  Snacks, tasty drinks, and of course the requisite re-purposed warehouse as the venue.  They even gave us recipes for their tasty offerings (I’m sharing my favorite below).  But the whole time, I couldn’t help but have Fog and Smog’s Mixologist song running through my head.  I did manage to keep from singing it out loud (at least where anyone else could hear), so I’m calling it a win.

And, should you find yourself in need of a restorative tonic, I can officially recommend the following:

La Tête, le Cœur (The Head, the Heart) by Greg West-Tartine

  • 2 oz Oyo whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce verjus
  • 1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 6-8 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • orange peel for garnish

Mix it up…in a glass…with ice.  You can pretend I said that in a fancy cocktail-y proper sort of way, but really, mix it up, in a glass, with ice.  Then twist up that orange peel over it and drop it in.  Then, enjoy it, and think well of me.  Quite tasty.

 

 

Preserve, Part II

Really, this is very easy.  So easy I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking.  Ready, here we go.

 1) Juice several of your backup lemons. I usually need about one lemon per jar, and in this case I’m doing 5 jars.

2) Cut the tips off your Meyer lemons (optional, but it feels tidy to do it).

3) Cut your Meyer lemons almost all the way into quarters (cut most of the way through the lemon, leaving just enough to hold them together at the bottom).  Don’t panic if you slip, you can still use them.  Just aim for them to stay together.

4) Drop in 1 lemon into a clean jar (I run mine through the sanitize cycle in my dishwasher right before I use them), then sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on top.

5) Keep going (lemon, salt, lemon, salt, lemon, salt). Squash it down after each lemon.  This is after three lemons. It is not full enough yet.

6) Even though it looks impossible, shove in one more lemon. The lemons should protrude slightly over the lip of the jar.  For me, with pint jars, 4 really is the right number every time. 

7) Pour in some of your extra lemon juice from your backup lemons to fill up the extra spaces.  Figuring out just how much to put in is a trick.  You want it just full enough that a tiny bit of juice leaks out when you screw on the cap (meaning there is as little air as possible in the jar).  If you don’t spill a bit, you didn’t use enough. 

8) Stand back and admire your industry.  Let them sit on the counter (flip them over once a day or so) for a week.  After that, top the jars up with extra lemon juice if needed, and pop them in the fridge.  They’re ready to use after about a month, and they keep more or less forever (read, a year or so at least).

 

Preserve

It’s freezing cold outside today, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hole up at home and make something yummy.  Today’s plan is preserved (or salt cured) lemons.  I made these last year and have fallen completely in love with them.  They are delicious in any sort of vegetable dish (we use them most every time we make chicken or vegetable soup) and are called for in lots of Moroccan recipes.  They’ve become a must-have staple in my kitchen.

There is a bit of a seasonal aspect to them.  They’re best made with Meyer lemons, and those are easiest to find (at least where I live) in January and February.  So this seems the perfect time to make them.  If you want to make them too, you’ll need the following things.

Meyer lemons: I’ve got about 20 here.  That’s not quite a year’s supply for us, but it was all the store had.  I’ll likely do more if the store has more next time I’m there.

Backup lemons: You need these for extra juice.  You can do this with just regular lemons if you can’t find the Meyer ones, but in my case, these will just be the supporting actors.  Be prepared for the cashier to ask what the heck you’re doing with all these lemons.

Salt: You want sea salt, and coarse-grained sea salt if you can find it.  Cheap is fine (Trader Joes, $1.49 for the canister, and you won’t actually need two), this is not the place to break out your fancy-pants pink salt from some exotic locale.

Mason Jars: I use the wide mouth (that bit is important) pint jars from Ball.  You should use whatever you’ve got on hand.  This is not a fancy full on canning/jam-making process.  It’s shoving stuff in jars.  It’s very low stress, a washed out jam jar would work if you want to do a test run without buying anything.

I’ll be back next time with the step-by-step bits so you can make them too.  Just so long as you promise to invite me over for dinner.

Not That Powerful

So it seems the sock, the pale blue, leafy, spring-tastic sock, has some limits to its magical powers of winter banishment.  This is what I woke up to this morning.

That’s one of my office windows.  This is another.

It’s a wee bit brisk out there.  And gray. And windy.  All of which is completely appropriate.  It’s January in Cleveland, this is what it’s supposed to be like.  But I am definitely going to spend the day in woolly socks to compensate.  And I may set the leafy socks aside for today.  Knitting on them when it’s like this out there seems just too much cognitive dissonance for a Tuesday morning.

Not Quite

You’ll recall that this whole star thing started as a way to make it snow.  It still hasn’t worked, but apparently my furnace heard about my concerns and wanted in on the act.  So last night, when it was just the tiniest bit nippy outside (even if it wasn’t snowing) he stopped working.  Well not quite, he kept blowing air, he just stopped heating that air before blowing it on me.  Very refreshing.

I responded with stoicism and wool.   And another star.

My office windows are now full, so it’s likely time to stop.  I’m sure the snow will arrive any day now.

And because you guys really do seem enamored of these, I’ve done a bit of looking around, and I’ve found a few more links for you.  Here is someone who has made them with just tissue paper and has instructions for a few basic stars in English.  Here is a place to buy the sort of paper I’m using (or something close to it, I’ve not ordered this so I can’t say for sure, but it sounds the same).  And should your own dexterity/time/energy not quite be up to the task, here is a place to buy the completed stars.

Now this evening, my goal really is to get the second of those cabled socks on the needles.  With any luck at all, we should return you to your regularly scheduled woolly goodness very shortly.

Easily Amused

Huh, ok, you guys like the stars.  Honestly, I’m a little surprised.  I find it ever so slightly shameful that I like them (they’re paper…folded paper…there should be fairly low amusement value here).  I’m downright shocked that you guys do.  I was expecting some folded arms and foot tapping and a little gentle prod back in the direction of the yarn.

But who am I to argue?  The first round of stars didn’t do it (no snow yet), so now I’ve added a yellow one to the mix.  It might be my favorite so far.  I’ve got one more window in my office, so I may well need to do one more star tonight…just for symmetry you understand!

If you’re really itching to try your own, there are some directions (in German, but you’re looking for the pictures anyways) online.  You can likely make a fairly simple one out of tracing paper if you just want to practice.  It won’t be quite the same, but enough to know if you like it.  There are some directions for one here, and another here, and one more here.  If you put ‘fenstersterne anleitung’ (window star instructions) into google, you’ll find more!

My Misspent Youth

Earlier this week, I opened the windows in my house.  Yesterday, I went to the grocery store wearing sandals.  Something has to be done.  It’s December, it’s Ohio, it should not be in the 60s.  I need to make it snow.  This is traditionally done by hanging either straw stars or paper stars in the windows.

Now, let me back up.  I’m not sure either of these things is a very traditional holiday craft in the States.  But I grew up in Germany, and making both of these was always part of the season.  The straw stars make a huge mess and are not kitten friendly, so last night I decided to go with the paper ones.

It starts with a paper cutter, the instruction book (optional, you really can just wing it) and some fancy colored translucent paper.  I’m not sure this stuff is available here.  It’s not tissue paper like you’d use for a present.  It’s more like tracing paper.  I think it may actually be what’s called glassine paper.  If you want to buy your own, the closest I’ve found seems to be the stuff called kite paper.  I’ve got a fair bit left over from years ago though, so I just dug around in the closet.

Then comes some folding.  And a bit more folding.  And one or two more folds.  It’s not hard at all, just tedious.  I suggest doing it in front of the tv.

Each individual piece looks like this (had to hold it up to a lamp as it was dark outside, sorry about that).

Then you tape them all together (this is the part I usually botch up) and hang them in your window.  When it’s light outside (which it’s not terribly here, but hopefully this gives the idea), you can see all the different layers as differing shades of the color.

I made a little orange one too.

And of course Levon had to come supervise as soon as he heard the camera.  He’s helpful like that.

Now, I just have to wait for it to start snowing.  I’ll make a few more to hurry things along, but I don’t see how this could fail to work.

What about you guys, does anyone else make these?  Does anyone else have any sure fire ways to make it snow (or stop snowing…which I’m sure I’ll be interested in come February)?

Coffee Ice Cream

While we did not partake in the traditional Thanksgiving feast, we did still devote some time to cooking and gluttony this weekend.  One of these expressions of culinary frivolity was the  making of coffee ice cream and home made chocolate sauce.  Now alas, getting a really good photo of the ice cream in my dim dining room before the hot chocolate sauce caused too much meltage proved a challenge beyond my skills.  So you’ll have to suffer with a mediocre image of a mighty fine ice cream.  Ice cream so fine I’m compelled to share the directions with you.

I preface this by saying I am not a professional ice cream maker.  I’m pretty confident at this point that if I give you knitting instructions, they’ll be right.  Ice cream, not so much.  But, I can say with certainty, this is what I did, and it came out marvelously well.

Oh, and I’m working on the assumption you’re a clever kid and have followed that bit in your ice cream maker’s instructions that says to chill the bowl well before you want to make ice cream (or, that you’re a fancy kid and have one of the machines with the built in chiller).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tablespoons kahlua
  • 1/2 cup of the strongest coffee you can possibly brew, chilled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Put the cream in a big bowl and whip the ever living hell out of it.  We’re talking more or less whipped cream style.  The more air in here the better.  Don’t let it turn into butter, but anything short of that is fine.
  2. Pour in the can of sweetened condensed milk (don’t cut yourself licking the can…use a spatula like a civilized deviant) and continue to beat.
  3. Once that’s combined, add in an egg and, surprise surprise, beat it some more.  It really should be thick and frothy and almost mousse like at this point, at least as thick as pudding.
  4. Add in the coffee, Kahlua, and salt.  These you’re just mixing to combine.  You won’t get any more air in the mixture (and all this extra liquid will thin it out a bit), so don’t linger over this step any more than you need to.
  5. Follow your ice cream maker’s directions for going from ‘delicious frothy paste’ to ‘frozen creamy goodness’ (for me, that’s pour it in the bowl, churn for 15 minutes, freeze).

This makes about 1 quart of ice cream (which easily fits in our home ice cream maker).  You’re welcome. And I apologize if this means you need to break out the stretchy pants.