Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More obsessive Madelinetosh knitting

Since I'm pretending it's fall (I know it really is fall but our temps don't feel like it) I knit up a new fall hat.
The pattern is Crooked Paths by Melissa LaBarre and the yarn is Madelinetosh DK in Rose. This yarn is a dream and so squishy. My fingers are crossed that I'll have cause to wear it in the very near future.
Lately everyone in my life seems to be with child. I have a list a mile long of baby items to knit. One recurrent theme in baby gift knitting is the Bunny Tails hat from Itty Bitty Hats. I've knit this hat at least four times, it's uber-cute. This one went to a co-worker of Doug's and it's knit in more Madelinetosh DK, this colorway is called Wash and seems so appropriate for a little one. 
One skein of this yarn makes two 0-6 month hats. I have two more skeins of DK for baby hats, one in Milk and the other in Creme de Menthe, such perfect colors for 'surprise' gender babies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Tarte Fine

I'm absolutely in love with apples right now, of course it's prime time to be right? I have a box of Honeycrip apples on my counter right now and they're the perfect snacking size. We also have a lot of apple TWD recipes on the list. 
This week's recipe was chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious. It's super, super simple. Puff pastry? Check. Golden Delicious apples? Egg Wash? Check. Check. Sugar? Check. Apricot jam? Check. That's it folks. 
Thinly sliced apples laid atop a flaky layer of puff pastry, brushed with egg wash, sprinkled with sugar and glazed with apricot jam. Simple and tasty and totally fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins with extras

Last week I had the good fortune of being off Thursday and Friday, thanks to a couple of holidays observed by my employers. This gave me enough free time to take my cat to the vet, work on two papers I have due next week, visit my brand-new nephew at the hospital, go to the doctor, do laundry and whip up a batch of these Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel. 
I found the recipe at Ezra Pound Cake and since I'm a sucker for pumpkin baked goods I had to make them.

They were delicious, especially warm and the cream cheese wasn't overpowering. As Rebecca mentions in her post if you want a bigger cream cheese flavor double the filling. I made a little more streusel topping than the recipe called for but it worked out fine. I did use a jumbo muffin pan so it took a tad longer to bake than if I had used a regular one. Go ahead and bake some, you'll be glad you did.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Apple Slab (terrible name but tasty baked good)

Sometimes, when I have a free moment (which is rarity these days) I mill around online at the seemingly endless supply of food blogs. Occasionally a recipe will catch my eye and I have to make it - immediately. This occurred the other week when I saw a tweet on the King Arthur Flour Twitter feed about Old-Fashioned Apple Slab. I opened the link, read the recipe and got a sudden hankering for Apple Slab.

I wanted to make it RIGHT THEN. Alas, my school/work schedule got in the way and it was several days before I got make it. The wait was worth it though because Apple Slab is fan-freaking-tastic.
Doug wolfed down several helpings, as did I. It tastes like fall, as do a lot of apple-based desserts for me. Although I'm beginning to believe fall will never come. The first day of Autumn was this week and the high today is supposed to be 93. I weep. But if you crank up the AC and make Apple Slab you can at least pretend it Autumn right? Recipe here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Honey shawl

I finished knitting this sock yarn shawl two weeks ago but haven't had the time to photograph it until now. The pattern is Ysolda Teague's Damson and the yarn is Malabrigo Sock in Ochre.
Malabrigo sock yarn is so soft and springy and this color reminds me of honey. I'm an outrageously slow knitter so this took me about three weeks to knit, but it was really easy. This marks sock yarn shawl number five for me this year.
They're so addictive and considering my stash, I won't be running out of yarn anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Coffee Break Muffins

Late post! I wrote this on Sunday but forgot to schedule the publishing. C'est la vie. 

This week's selection was chosen by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous. These were simple muffins to put together, muffin batter is usually a one-bowl kind of recipe. They didn't take long to puff up and came out of the oven looking lovely. However, I was kind of disappointed in the taste. Even though there was cinnamon in the batter I don't think it helped pick up the espresso powder notes. The texture and moisture of the muffins were good but I couldn't shake the sense that they needed an extra bit of something. 
Edited to add: I am completely impressed with what Rhiani did with these muffins, she made them Salted Caramel Mochaccino cupcakes! Wowza. Go check out her blog to see what she did.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicago in 36 Hours

Last Friday was the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah and since I work at a synagogue I got the day off. This worked out brilliantly because last weekend was the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. Friday morning after my class Doug and I packed the car and started the longest-drive-in-history (9 hours plus stops) to Chicago. We got there around 7ish, checked into our hotel, freshened up and went to Ikea. Neither one of us had ever been to Ikea so it was super overwhelming, the one in Schaumburg was huge. I don't know if they're all that big but wow. We didn't buy anything, just browsed. I did find some lamps I would have liked to buy but the lines for checkout were so long that we skipped it. They had a lot of storage ideas that I really liked. After the Ikea trip we had pizza at Giordano's and then called it a night. 
Saturday morning we had breakfast in Rosemont before taking the L into the city. Obviously we didn't have a lot of time but we were able to go to The Art Institute of Chicago and take in some masterpieces. The details of the Thorne Miniature Rooms left me breathless. 
These were some of my favorites, Egyptian and Asian pieces, sculpture, American classics from Edward Hopper, Grant Wood and Georgia O'Keefe and then Monet pieces.
There was also Van Gogh, look at the brush strokes.
After a far too brief stop at the museum we hopped back aboard the Blue Line and went to the craft fair. It seemed far more packed with people than the previous two years I've been. I bought items from Red Prairie Press, Tartella, Spincycle Yarns, Kitty Jones, Medium Control Goods, Cakespy and a print that I can't remember the seller of. I also popped into Nina, the yarn store just down from the fair, and bought a skein of Madelinetosh (yes, I realize I have a problem), some buttons for a baby sweater I'm working on and a shawl pin.

After we left the fair Doug got in touch with an old friend from Memphis who now lives in Chicago and we were able to meet him, his wife and friends for sushi at Tampopo.

Sunday morning we made a quick stop at Floriole for baked goods and coffee. Floriole is a beautiful space, exposed brick, sidewalk tables, wooden beams and one of those garage front doors so the whole front space can be opened.
The baked good were delicious, I had an almond filled croissant which was one of the best things I ever eaten and we bought lemon-lavender, blackberry and chocolate-earl grey macarons for the road, as well as a milk chocolate-caramel-hazelnut tart that was practically perfect. Plus they brew Intelligentsia coffee, so good.
On the way home we stopped in Champaign, Illinois for lunch in a little area filled with restaurants. It looked like a great town, I wish we had more time to explore. Alas, we had to get back to the Bluff City ASAP since I had a Monday morning class at 6:55AM. We have to go back to Chicago when we have more time because there are so many things we want to see.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Magic Bars (or why-didn't-I-make-these-soomer-bars)

Since time is at a premium now I'm on the lookout for baking recipes that can be made fairly quickly and without a lot of fuss. I read the Rainy Day Gal blog mainly to lust after Seattle, but last week I read her post about Magic Bars and was intrigued. The recipe seems so simple and my memories of these kinds of bars (maybe last had at Vacation Bible School a million years ago?) were fuzzy. Friday afternoon after work I was able to throw these bars together in no time, like five minutes.
They were so good, gooey and sweet and super rich (a small piece is plenty). The recipe is from the butter queen herself, Paula Deen, but has only one stick of butter in it.
If you have five minutes to prep and thirty minutes to bake, you need to make these.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

This week's selection was chosen by Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine. I had made Dorie's peanut butter cookies a few months ago and really enjoyed them. However, this time around I decided to use Dorie's 'Playing Around' suggestion on the side and use cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate pieces to make a peanut butter-chocolate cookie.
I'm really glad I did because they turned out so well, particularly when they were still warm and the chocolate bits were still melting. I took these to dinner at the home of friends and everyone liked them - another cookie winner.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

College: revisited

Monday classes at the University of Memphis started. I have made my return to campus so I can finish my BA that I've been working on forever (although I did have a four year break). I'm taking classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:50-7:45AM (yes AM!), Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-6:55PM and Thursdays from 5:30-8:30PM. This is in addition to my full-time 8-5PM job.

Monday proved to be difficult, I was too stupid to figure out how to use my parking garage tag, it took me 15 minutes to hike from the parking garage to the building my class was in, it was a million degrees outside (okay maybe not that hot but still rather warm), I was starving by 7:30, I didn't have coffee, my composition class is taught by someone at least four years younger than me and I feel impossibly old compared to everyone else. Despite all that, I'm glad to be back.

It's not so much about getting a degree to get a better job, because really I've been working in the field (Non-Profit Development & Administration) I'm getting a degree in for the last nine years. Now granted once I get a degree I'll probably be able to get something slightly beyond entry-level but mainly I want to go, learn and finish. I want to finally pass algebra, be done with it and hopefully not have to deal with it in a classroom setting ever again. I want to get a degree with my name on it and know I worked hard to earn it.