Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cold weather hats (for our non-existent cold weather)

It has slowly been getting cooler around here, and in fact this past weekend it was actually cold. But alas it doesn't last very long. The temperatures are going to be in the low 70's for the next week. Gah. Anyone who knows me knows I hate the hot weather and long to live in a cooler climate. This is especially true because being a knitter in Memphis it's only really cold enough for wool for maybe 3-4 months. And I distinctly remember a New Year's Eve in the last few years where I ate on the patio of a restaurant in flip flops.

Despite the lack of cold weather I've gone right ahead and knit some wool hats. I wrote about finishing the Robin's Egg Blue hat but I didn't post a pic, so here it is. I was having a bad face day.
And I also knit up Soule Mama's Favorite hat, it took almost no time and almost no yarn. I used Manos del Uruguay in this blushy color. I really like it, I might have done one more lace repeat though because my head is a little big.
Doug had also requested a hat and I found a simple ribbed hat pattern from Frugal Knitting Haus via Ravelry. I used Mission Falls superwash wool in chocolate. I think I must have gotten a couple of bad balls because it was pretty knotty and the twist came apart in several places. It's a really soft yarn but it was a total PIA to work with. Doug's still happy with his hat (despite his expression)In non-hat news, we were at the local comic book store last week and if we go in there Doug insists we buy something because he wants to support local businesses (which is completely fine with me). So we skipped over the comics and went for a graphic novel. He already has a decent stack of them (mostly Daniel Clowes). We bought Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine. I haven't been reading very much lately but I picked it up tonight and it looks pretty good. I was never into comic books but most of what Doug has seems interesting

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

*notes - I'm posting late today sorry! I had some dental work done early this morning and I'm just now feeling coherent enough to post*

Who doesn't like cupcakes? Especially when they're so versatile. This week's recipe was chosen by Clara of IHeartFood4Thought. We went to a pumpkin carving party this past Saturday and I thought it was the perfect place to share these cupcakes.
The ingredients were pretty basic, with the exception of buttermilk and since they were chocolate-chocolate they had melted bittersweet chocolate in them as well as cocoa powder. I did end up having a lot of dirty dishes after making these but they were worth it. I loved the ganache glaze too much better than plain buttercream frosting. Dorie give you several suggestions for filling the cupcakes and I decided to try some marshmallow creme. It was pretty sticky getting it into the pasty bag but once I did it was easy to puncture the cupcakes and fill the centers. I did take Clara's suggestion and decorated mine with a Halloween theme. I used sprinkles and colored sugars as well as some candy eyes I bought last year and used for making some of the creepy crawly treats from NotMartha's website. I got compliments on them so I guess they were a hit. Doug and I both enjoyed them too, they were a tad bit dry but there was a discussion on the TWD board about this explaining that cakes made with butter instead od oil tend to be drier. Still it's a recipe I'd make again. I'd love to try filling them with an coffee pastry cream or raspberry preserves.

Oh and P.S. I invested in one of those cupcake carriers (I bought a pink one at Target) and it was a great investment!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Muffins

This week's selection was chosen by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. I love the fall and I love nearly anything pumpkin flavored so I was pretty sure I was going to love the pumpkins muffins and I did. The only changes I made were subbing half of the flour for whole wheat flour and I used baking raisins (extra moist) instead of golden raisins. These were very good, a great breakfast muffin. Although if were going to make them frequently for breakfast I would probably try to make it a little healthier. Thanks for a great selection Kelly! Next week it's Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Friday afternoon Doug and I left Memphis and drove up to Nashville for an evening with David Sedaris at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. We both adore him, his audio books are one of the few things we can agree on listening to in the car on long trips. Doug was kind enough to drive up there so I could some knitting time in. I used it to finish up the Robin's Egg hat. Super quick knit really and its super cute.
We got to Nashville in enough time to check into the hotel (I use the term hotel loosely, it was more like a creepy motel) and take a quick nap for driving to TPAC. When we got to TPAC we found out he was signing books, which we hadn't known in advance. Davis Kidd bookstore was there selling copies of his books so we bought one and after standing in the wrong line for 5 minutes we found the correct line and it was so long we decided to wait until after he spoke to try to get the book signed. He was great, funny and sincere and just plain awesome. After the show we managed to get into the book signing line fairly quickly. We still had to wait about 30 minutes but I did get my book signed, although I couldn't think of anything witty to say to him.

It was past ten when we left TPAC but we were hungry so we walked over to a restaurant a Nashville friend had recommended and had a late night dinner there. I made the painful mistake of wearing shoes that really shouldn't be walked in/stood in for more than say two hours so by the time we were walking back to the parking garage I was seriously considering just taking off my shoes my feet hurt so bad. Lesson learned.Saturday morning we woke up early so we could get out of that creepy motel and grab some coffee. We drove to what I believe is East Nashville and had coffee and muffins at a coffee shop called Ugly Mugs (no relation to the Memphis coffee company Ugly Mug). I had a delicious pumpkin-chocolate chip muffin and Doug had a blueberry muffin that was chock full of blueberries. While we were there we picked up a local food guide and saw an ad for the Nashville Farmer's Market. We had some time to kill and drove over there. I go to the Memphis Farmer's Market fairly often (although I haven't been in the last month but its only open on Saturdays from early May through early November. It's still fairly new but it's a great community service. The Nashville market is insane, it has a huge permanent location in downtown Nashville, its open seven days a week, year round, has a plant nursery, a flea market, an international grocery and a restaurant, it was amazing. I walked around with my mouth open because I couldn't believe how much stuff was there. Local produce everywhere, meats, fresh eggs, Mennonite baked goods, everything you could possibly imagine. I picked up a huge butternut squash, another kind of squash that I don't remember the name of, finger sized eggplants, apples, a pumpkin for the carving party this weekend and Doug had to have a package of country bacon. The pumpkins were my favorite part, there were huge boxes and wooden flats of so many different varieties of pumpkins, it was pumpkin nirvana and I wanted to take them all home. I hated to leave but I will be going back, it's worth the drive to get such produce, especially once the Memphis market closes for the season.
Part of the Nashville Farmer's Market
We also spent some time walking around the Tennessee State Capitol, War Memorial Plaza and the Tennessee Supreme Court. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the weather was just cool enough. We drove into Franklin which about 45 minutes outside of Nashville and had lunch at a little store/restaurant called the Henpeck Market. I had grilled pimento and cheese and Doug had grilled ham and cheese, both delicious. After lunch we drove past Franklin to Arrington Vineyards. It's a beautiful piece of land and they have daily wine tasting, which we wanted to do but because it was Saturday they were jam packed and we didn't want to spend hours waiting so we just bought a bottle of their Raspberry wine and hung out on the grounds for a little while before heading back to Memphis.
Tennessee State Capitol
Arrington Vineyards
We really couldn't have asked for a better weekend, it was wonderful and made it that much harder to head back to work this morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I sometimes I wonder if I will ever be a good enough knitter to actually ‘get’ a project on the first cast on. It seems like most everything I make I have to cast on at least twice, sometimes more.

Last Sunday I was super excited because I had gotten to the point on my Rusted Root where I could take the sleeves off. Well it wasn’t until I started to do that that I realized my raglan increases where only correct on one sleeve. The sleeve that starts right after the lace portion was missing the right slanting increasing and instead they curved downward - FAIL. I can’t repeat the words that came out of my mouth but needless to say I was not a happy camper. But maybe it was for the best because I was knitting the large and I think I should go down a size and knit the medium instead. And I wasn’t digging the poofy sleeves, I’m going to just do a plain sleeve, no poof. This is a picture of the problem, see?
So I set aside the sweater and started on these fingerless gloves in wool bamboo which is really nice to knit with and very soft. All was well until the end when I realized I had *three* thumb holes instead of one!? FAIL.
I was not feeling the knitting love yesterday. In complete defeat I pulled out the Lamb's Pride Bulky and started knitting the Robin's Egg Blue Hat. So far so good, even though I'm only in the seed stitch section...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catching up

Yesterday and today I had the pleasure of being off again for Jewish holidays (Sukkot this time). Yesterday I did not do very much, although I did manage a trip to one of the yarn stores in town to pick up wool for hats. Doug wants a plain winter hat and I want to make the Robin's Egg Blue. I bought some Cascade 220, Mission Falls superwash and a skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky for the Robin's Egg hat - in a pale green of course. I can't seem to stop knitting green things.

Today I got up and became good friends with a pot of coffee while I worked my way through months of paperwork neglect. Mainly medical insurance EOB papers, house stuff like copies of tax bills, tons of things that need to be shredded. This was just a small part of the pile.
I finally got it all done though, we need to buy a small file cabinet to keep all insurance and tax stuff in but other than that all the paper has gone. I threw away a massive garbage bag full of papers and have another huge bag of things I need to shred.

I did some mundane housework, like laundry, running the dishwasher and cleaning the bathrooms - very exciting. Since it's still not cooling off here (80's people, in mid-October) I'm trying to will it to happen. I decided to make homemade chicken pot pie for dinner, a nice warm comfort food. And since there's only two of us eating we have leftovers for days. The recipe is from a member of a cooking and recipe message board I'm on. The only changes I've made is I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts I cooked myself and I used more vegetables than it calls for. I've been making this for several years and it's an excellent recipe. It's not super healthy because of the heavy cream and the crusts but it would be good for a splurge dinner. The prep work is a little tiresome because of all the chopping but it's worth it.

(this isn't a super appetizing picture but trust me, it tastes great)
Lavoie’s Chicken Pot Pie

1 rotisserie chicken (cooked from the grocery store)
1 cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 medium red potato, cubed with peel on
1 cup of fresh green bean, stemmed and cut in half
2 carrots, sliced
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Package of pie crusts (the ones from the dairy section). Get the one with 2 crusts, for a 9 inch
1 egg beaten

*You can use milk instead of the heavy cream, but it comes out a bit better with the heavy cream (it’s more watery with the milk). If you want to cut down on calories and fat, I suggest half and half. It’s actually fairly healthy though, aside from the cream.

1. Remove chicken from the bones (easier to do when still warm), and cut up. Set aside. I cheat with the rotisserie chicken, because it is way easier, and it tastes better.

2. Steam carrots and green beans together until fork tender. Boil the cubed potato and then the corn/peas.

3. Combine the heavy cream and chicken broth and set aside.

4. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Saute, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually stir in broth mixture. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and boils. Add the chicken, vegetables, potatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, and thyme. You should already have the bottom crust in the bottom of your pie plate or casserole dish.

5. Preheat oven to 400

6. Place second pastry on top of casserole. Cut a few slits in the pastry to let it breathe. Flute edges by pinching together. Brush pastry with beaten egg.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Lenox Almond Biscotti

Biscotti is something I've eaten a few times but not something I've sought out and I've never made it either. I really prefer soft baked goods rather than crunchy ones but I was still more than happy to try making it myself. The biscotti was chosen by Gretchen of Canela & Comino.
The best thing about putting together the biscotti was how wonderful the dough smelled. Almond extract is one the best baking smells ever. In addition to the sliced almonds the recipe called for I added chopped dried cherries. After I made the dough I refrigerated it overnight, only because I didn't want to make it until the morning. In the morning after being refrigerated overnight it had set and wasn't rock solid but it was a little easier to work with.

I baked it for the 15 minutes Dorie calls for and when I pulled it out it wasn't done enough so I ended up leaving it in for about 12 more minutes. After I pulled the slabs of dough out and cooled them for 30 I sliced them into the biscotti shape. In the book Dorie says to stand them up straight on the baking sheet when you bake them the second time but mine weren't standing up. Instead I laid mine on a cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet so both sides would be done evenly.
In the end I enjoyed the biscotti and the husband liked it do. It was extremely good dunked in a cup of coffee. I'm still not 100% sold on the hard/crunchy cookie but I would probably make the biscotti again. Especially since there are so many options for flavoring, I would love to try dried cherries and chocolate chips or maybe Earl Grey flavored biscotti.I'm really looking forward to next week's recipe, Pumpkin Muffins. I adore almost anything pumpkin flavored so I'm sure these are going to be a hit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The garden in the fall

So I've been lax about posting what's happening in my vegetable garden because really it's been pretty disappointing. After we got back from vacation in mid-August I found that squash vine borers took over and killed all of my squash vines and my cucumber. I was able to salvage a single baby butternut squash and later used it in my soup (see below). The cucumber vine had already produced lots of cucumbers so I wasn't too broken up about it, and the zucchini and summer squash weren't really producing much more than a small squash or two. Since then there hasn't been a lot growing, except for the herbs and the tomatoes. Almost all of my tomatoes are still producing blooms and little green tomatoes. Our temps are still in the mid-80's so I'll probably still have tomatoes through the end of the month. These are little sundrop tomatoes I planted from seed. I can't believe they actually made tomatoes, back in the early summer they were barely hanging on, I almost pulled them out.
This a German Striped tomato, I bought these as small plants from Dan West Garden Center here in Memphis. They've done pretty well.
These are Roma's, also bought as small plants at Dan West. These have been my best producer of all of the tomatoes.
And here's a pimento pepper, I bought two seedlings at Lowe's and this is the first pepper either plant has produced.
My basil is still green and it's as tall as my waist (about 2.5 feet)
All the other herbs are still growing too, as well as my carrots. I pulled out a few carrots two weekends ago, they were small but tasty.
Having been my first vegetable garden I think it did okay. I learned a lot and I'm satisfied with what it produced, considering I used no chemicals or unnatural sprays/fertilizers/foods. Next year I'm going to attempt to double the size and start planting a little before the frost date. I want to try to do potatoes and more lettuces next year too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How my Friday night is shaping up

On the table: Frozen pizza and a bottle of WoodchuckOn the iPod: Alternating between A Fine Frenzy "One Cell In the Sea" and Martha Wainwright "I Know You're Married But I Have Feelings Too"

On the needles: Rusted Root (I'm going to call mine 'Mossy Root')On my computer screen: the new Twilight trailer in HD (yeah, yeah it's for fourteen year-olds, whatever)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel Topped-Peanut Brownie Cake

It is as good as it sounds, really. Wow, this was a really delicious and very decadent dessert. This week's recipe was chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy. I did have a lot of dirty dishes during the process of making this but it was well worth it. I made the cake first, which was similar in ingredients and directions to the French Chocolate brownies we made in May (I think it was May?). My cake was a little dark on the top but it wasn't too noticeable.
While the cake was cooling I started work on the caramel. Making the caramel was a lesson in being patient. The caramel (well it's not caramel yet) has to boil until it turns color and I was afraid I would leave mine on too long so I kept checking it. In the book Dorie suggest putting a little on a white plate to check the color so I did that several times before it turned. Once it turned a deep amber color I pulled it off the heat and it smelled a little burnt. I was completely paranoid I had left it on the heat for too long. But it looked like caramel so I just went with it hoping it tasted like caramel. Luckily, it tasted just fine.The recipe says to wash the springform pan you bake the cake in after the cake cools and put the cake back in the pan. I am lazy and did not do this. I put the cake in a tart plate (the horror!) and then topped it with the peanuts and caramel. Had I been serving this to guests I probably would have put it on my nice cake platter. But it was just the two of us and Doug was going to eat it if it was on a crystal platter or not.
The cake tasted great. Once the caramel set it formed a chewy layer on top of the brownie cake. The peanuts added a nice crunch too. I would make this again, probably for a 'wow' end of meal dessert. Great recipe to try and now I can say I've made caramel. Next week we're doing biscotti which I've never done but I'm looking forward to.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cast Off, Cast On

Oh my gosh I *finally* cast off the Lace Ribbon Scarf. This scarf took me over a month (of course I did put it down a few times) It needs to be blocked though, I'm planning on attempting that this weekend. I need more rust proof pins. This will be the biggest object I've blocked so I might need a bigger blocking board. I cannot wait to see how it turns out after blocking. Last week I got Sonny & Shear's e-newsletter and there was a coupon code in there and I was not strong enough to resist ordering something. So I ordered a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in the In Vino Veritas colorway (which I've been coveting for awhile) and a skein of Yarn Love Juliet sock yarn in the Cupid colorway. I love, love, love the Dream in Color, the Yarn Love is great too but the Dream in Color is so pretty and the ruby tones are exactly what I wanted. I am now obsessed with getting more Dream in Color yarn, they have some gorgeous green colorways which I must have. Since I have been in a pattern of buying sock yarn but not actually knitting socks I wanted to use the Dream in Color for something like a shawl. I found the Woodland Shawl pattern on Ravelry and fell in love. There haven't been many shawls that I've actually found myself wanting to knit but I saw this one and lots of people have used Dream in Color for them and they are stunning. I had to prevent myself from casting on as soon as the yarn came Saturday. Mainly because I have two bags I need to finish working on (not knitting but handles) and I had already cast on for the Rusted Root sweater and I'd like to get going on it. But as soon as I'm done with the Rusted Root I am all over the Woodland Shawl. I'm doing the Rusted Root in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in a colorway that's called Willow. It's more of a golden green though. I think it will be a nice color for fall. Must get to knitting so I can cast on the shawl...

Friday, October 03, 2008

7 years and 5 years

Today is the 7 year anniversary of my first date with Doug. We don’t buy cards or anything like that but I do get nostalgic. We had our first date at Brooklyn Bridge in Germantown and I remember being very nervous and drinking a ton of ice tea and trying to sit up straight. 5 years ago today Doug and I got engaged at the Brooks Museum here in Memphis. His proposal involved pulling my engagement ring (that we had picked out together months before) out of his pocket and handing it to me, such a romantic. We’ll celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary in February. It seems like it has been ‘not that long’ and ‘forever’ ago. I can barely remember what it was like before we were together. People always say this but only because it’s true, the older you get the more quickly time passes.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My new favorite place

It's actually been dipping down into the 50's at night the last few days. I have taken full advantage of it by spending as much time outside on the patio as possible. On Monday night we lit our chimenea for the first time - ever. The chimenea was left here by the previous owners so it became ours. How we've lived here for 1.5 years without using it I'll never understand. But Monday night I made it my mission to start a fire in it. We have piles of little branches to burn in it so that was not a problem. I also strung up the patio style light we bought last spring. It's been so nice out there at night, especially now that we each have a chair to sit in. Tonight is the coolest night of the week and we made smores outside. There is nothing like the taste of a burnt, melty marshmallow. It reminds me of the bonfires and hayrides I went to growing up. Of course I had to injure myself though. We used the fondue forks as sticks for our marshmallows and I touched the metal end of the fork before it was cool and I got a nasty blister on the inside of my bottom lip. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Also on an unrelated topic, I have a total crush on NBC/MSNBC's political director, Chuck Todd - love him. Today I found out he has a fansite, Viva Chuck Todd. I must have a t-shirt.