Monday, December 29, 2008

Pancakes, marshmallows & knitting

I was successful in my bid not to leave the house this weekend. Once I got home Friday afternoon I didn't leave again until this morning when I headed for work. After all the holiday traveling I wanted to veg this weekend, mission accomplished.

I got a lot of knitting done, I FINALLY finished the Rusted Root sweater, the bane of my knitting existence. I don't have a picture of me actually wearing it yet. I used Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, which I've used for my other sweaters, but it pilled up a little in the dryer. This concerns me, maybe I'll have to dry it flat from now on. There are a few mistakes in my stitches but for the most part I'm happy with it.Of course I had to cast something else on immediately. So I cast on for the Back-to-School U-Neck Vest from Fitted Knits. I've had this in my Ravelry que for a long time and I bought the yarn to make it in Seattle. I'm using Cascade 220 in Burgundy. The construction of this is going to be a little different than the other sweaters I've made so I'm hoping I can manage.

I also cast on the Branching Out scarf from Knitty. It's for my former boss, who I see throughout the year. It's a late Christmas gift and I hope it won't take me forever. It's a pretty simple lace pattern. I'm using Filatura Di Crosa Zara, a merino wool, which is leftover from a scarf I made my mom a couple of years ago.
Despite bringing home a crapload of yarn from Seattle I still felt the need to order more yarn. I used some of my Christmchanukah bonus. It's Sunshine Yarns Classic Sock in the Forks colorway (yeah, yeah I know). This is the second skein I've ordered from Sunshine Yarns and she really does a beautiful job with the colors. It is soft and a little squishy and one day I will knit fabulous socks with it. Until then I will put it in one of my stash baskets and gaze at it lovingly.
Besides the knitting I cooked a lot this weekend. Every once in awhile I'll wake up craving pancakes. I made them for dinner Friday night and put apple pieces and cinnamon in the batter. Sunday I made more pancakes, leaving them plain this time and subbing some of the white flour with whole wheat flour. No matter how hard I try my pancakes never come out perfectly. Either the first batch is underdone or overdone or the last batch get burned or whatever. I have learned over time to not have the skillet very hot because the pancakes (at least mine) burn easily. Pancakes were my favorite thing to have my grandmother make for me. My brother and I spent an immeasurable amount of time at my grandparents house growing up and I couldn't even begin to count the times my grandmother made us pancakes. Pancakes are one of the first things I learned to cook on my own. This week's (tomorrow's) TWD selection is cheesecake, which I made and gave away last week. So despite the fact that our house is overflowing with cookies, crackers, candy, etc. I still had to make a 'treat'. I joined the TWD group last May and missed some recipes since I joined late. One of the recipes I missed was marshmallows. Last Valentine's Day I made marshmallows using the recipe posted on Martha Stewart's website. They turned out fine but needed a little more vanilla because they tasted too 'gelatin-y' to me. This time I used the recipe in Dorie's Baking from My Home to Yours. I used a vanilla bean and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract to make sure that had a definite vanilla flavor. Making marshmallows is really easy and though the recipe calls for a candy thermometer I winged it instead. After they sit for at least 3 hours you pull them out and cut them. I use kitchen shears because its just easier to manage them that way. After they're cut up into squares they're tossed in a mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar so they don't stick to everything. These are good, they don't really taste like store bought ones, better I believe. Dorie's recipe is available online via this link (you have to scroll down to see the recipe). Plus it's such a basic recipe that there's the opportunity to make lots of variations, chocolate, mocha, pumpkin spice, peppermint, etc.
Finally, this is a little late since Christmas has come and gone, but I heard this story on NPR last year and it stuck with me and I listened to it again this year. It reminds me of the stories I heard growing up from my grandparents and great-grandparents. I was extremely lucky to grow up knowing most of my great-grandparents, several of whom lived well into their 80's. One great-grandfather in particular always made sure to give his grandchildren and great-grandchildren oranges, nuts and hard candy at Christmas time. Anyway, this story reminds me of him.

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