Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Quick update

Still having trouble keeping up with the blog for some reason. I think there are many reasons, or excuses if you want to call them that.

I'm having trouble with my eyes. My glasses are overdue but my insurance only pays for a pair every 2 years (or pays their paltry contribution to what a pair costs) and my two years isn't up until November. Being on the computer gives me eye strain and I'm really trying to avoid that. Plus, working all day on the computer, doing pretty intensive data entry, makes it less than appealing to spend more time on the computer at home. Plus my computer is getting more erratic by the day, to the point that I actually bought backup space online so I didn't lose all my photos in the inevitable meltdown when it happens.

So. I've been knitting...

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spinning...
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knitting some more...
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seeing fireworks...
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tasting wine...
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(at Kavic Winery, highly recommended. Good stuff)

and cooking, and sleeping, and working, and surviving. And taking photos.

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living up to the name

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Hopefully, more soon, but I can't promise anything.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tangy Bulgur Salad

I made up this recipe on the fly. I wanted to try bulgur wheat and didn't want a hot dish in our 85 degree summer, plus the thought of crunchy bok choy and lemon juice and olive oil and fresh tomatoes in combination was pretty appealing.

1 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
1-2 cups chopped bok choy
1 medium shallot, sliced thin.
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato or equivalent, diced
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional, but gives the dish a nice protein kick for vegetarians.)
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Balsamic vinegar (white)
Sea or Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Cook bulgur wheat by bringing to a boil in two cups of water then simmering covered until done. Set aside to cool.
In a small saute' pan, coat bottom with olive oil, add bok choy, mushrooms, and shallot. Cook until bok choy is wilted but still crunchy.

At this point you can set everything in the refrigerator to cool off and walk away for an hour or so. I made the mistake of combining everything while it was still warm and it got a little mushy, as you can see in the photo below. Still tasted good, but not so aesthetically pleasing.

Once ingredients have cooled, mix everything together, adding more olive oil as needed. Add tomatoes and kidney beans, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and white balsamic to taste. Toss everything together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tasty, hearty, healthy, and easy to make ahead. Just not so photogenic.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

I want to tell you just how much I love you

Finished my Honeybee Stole and a quick Annis, both from handspun.

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It ended up being about seven feet long. I haven't done an official measurement yet but it's a big MFer.

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There are a ton more pictures of both shawls on flickr-see the link on the sidebar.

My next project is another Annis out of the alpaca I spun for last year's Tour de Fleece. And I have a spinning project in the works, with this.

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I split it evenly down the length (no idea how I did that, total luck as the weight is only off by one gram) and I'm going to spin as fine as possible then chain ply it and knit socks out of it, one going from yellow to purple and the other from purple to yellow. I love that combination.

In other news, Dylan got his wheelchair and is learning how to use it. We're also learning how to get him in it so it's right. It's a learning curve for all of us.

Here's a video of Dylan before the cart. It's kinda sad. Hence the cheerful music.


And here he is in the wheelchair, doing much better.



He was going to try to roll on the ground and we were all "NOOOOO".



Sorry for the jerky video, it was on my cell phone while I was walking. He really likes the cart.

Bob and I went to Fallingwater on our anniversary weekend, which was last weekend. Loved it. Haven't been there since I was a kid and it's awesome.

fallingwater

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Of course while we were down there, we had to stop by Ohiopyle and see Cucumber Falls. It made me depressed that I couldn't go down the hill and walk around closer to the water, though.
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By the time we got there I was done in, physically. It was a good day, though, topped off by a great dinner at La Cucina Dolce, a place I've been wanting to try.

Bob had trout with mussels and clams
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and I had gnocchi.
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The food overall was delicious. The beans and greens appetizer was outstanding. The crabcake appetizer was good, but pretty small for the price. The gnocchi dish I had would have been improved by not having some very assertive green olives battling the pancetta in the sauce for taste domination-I'd recommend they use a milder olive or a milder meat but it was really, really good. The service was good and we got a reservation a half hour ahead of our arrival so that was nice.

That's about it. It's hot and steamy in Pittsburgh this week and I'm broke, so no arts festival yet again this year. Maybe next time.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Beets with wilted greens

I love making this beet dish and everyone who has tried it loves it too!

When you select your fresh beets, make sure you get ones with good greens attached. Make sure the greens are free of holes and in good condition.

Beets with Wilted Greens

1 bunch fresh beets (Golden beets make this a particularly attractive dish)
One shallot, sliced thin.
Balsamic vinegar
Olive Oil
Fresh Ginger (optional)
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Skillet or Saute Pan with a lid that fits.

Remove greens from beets and set aside in water. Scrub beets well and cube. Add enough olive oil to a skillet to cover the bottom and add beets and shallot. Toss and saute', adding salt, ginger, and pepper to taste. Cover until done. Add balsamic vinegar to taste when beets are almost completely cooked. (If you're using golden beets, I recommend white balsamic but it probably doesn't make that much difference.)
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Making sure your greens are very clean, remove stems and cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and drain well. Add to pan with beets and cover. Leave on medium heat until greens wilt. Toss once or twice then remove from heat and serve.

Shown here using Golden Beets
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Coconut-Ginger Cream Pie

Last weekend, friends invited us to a thai-inspired cookout for Memorial Day (US). I wanted to bring a dessert with a twist, so I made this traditional pie with an updated flavor combination. It was delicious!

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Coconut Ginger Cream Pie (with optional pineapple)

Crust:
Approx 7 oz Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger gingersnaps
1 stick butter, softened

Process gingersnaps in food processor until all crumbs. Add butter and process until mixed. Remove and press into 9 inch pie plate, being sure to go all the way up the side. Bake in a 350F oven for ten minutes, remove from oven and cool.

Filling:
3 large eggs
3 cups half and half
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp candied ginger, diced
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine half and half, eggs, flour, and sugar in a medium saucepan and on medium heat, bring to a low boil, stirring almost continuously with a wire whisk. As it starts to thicken, stir more.
Remove from heat, add coconut, ginger, and vanilla and stir. Pour into pre-baked crust. Chill.

If desired, once pie is chilled, layer chopped fresh or drained canned crushed pineapple on top then top with whipped cream. Garnish with toasted coconut and mint leaves if desired. Chill and eat.

I stablized the whipped cream using this method-
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 packet Knox unflavored gelatine
1/4 cup water

Sprinkle gelatine on water and bring to a boil in the microwave. Mix well and put in the refrigerator to cool.

Beat whipping cream with sugar until it starts to stiffen. Add COLD gelatin (Make sure it's cold but still liquid) and beat until stiff peaks form.