Friday, August 29, 2008

Disney Addendum

That word always makes me think, dum da da dummm! Like a little fanfare of suspense. Ad-d-den-dummm!

yeah anyway. So the previous post is long, but I talk about food! What I wanted to say here, in a smaller post (well, maybe not smaller), is: Disney World has awesome food.

Magic Kingdom has good food, but aside from all the tasty pastries and sweets, you're mostly getting kid-friendly, boring food. We're talking burgers, chicken, chicken fingers, fried fish, fries (they have a McDonald's in Adventure Land, it's horrifying). Some places have some Mexican-type stuff, but it's a lot of boring food. (this is not to say all of it is not good, Columbia Harbor House has a lovely spinach salad, and Pecos Bill's does (or did...?) have a good taco salad). But my point is, the other parks have far better food.

Epcot, in the World Showcase, has a great variety, from all the different countries it features. Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, American Adventure (although don't bother there, it's all burgers and chicken fingers- but there are stands with turkey legs (which intrigue me, and smell good) and funnel cakes. I don't suggest funnel cakes at Disney because you can get those at any old fair, but if you don't follow the fair circuit, they are pretty good)), Morocco, France, England, Canada. I think I got them all (I left out the Outpost but they only have sodas and fresh fruit). Most of these countries have both a delicious sit-down restaurant, as well as a quick counter service place. I have eaten in most of these places (except America (boring!), Italy and Canada, but I intend to eat in Canada soon, after hearing some friends rave about it, and I've heard good things about Italy- I don't really eat pasta, so I haven't been yet, but maybe soon), and they are all top-notch. Germany has a fun show and is now a buffet, Morocco has a show as well (a belly dancer!), Norway has the princesses (fun for kids!) and Japan has a hibachi part and apparently is quite lovely, newly renovated.

Hollywood Studios (the park formerly known as MGM) also has good food, but the focus seems to be more on atmosphere than food. The Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi restaurants are my favorite for atmosphere, and like I said in the prev post, not so much for food (1950's fare at Prime Time- meatloaf, pot roast, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, etc; SciFi is mostly sandwiches and milkshakes- a drive-in movie theater theme). You also have fancier restaurants like the Brown Derby, which had a very tantilizing menu. I ate there once several years ago, and didn't care to return- but I think now I would. Other places are very kid-oriented, but the Commisary, which is counter-service, has curries and other interesting things. And I'm sure there are restaurants I'm forgetting...

As for Animal Kingdom..... I'm not really sure, we only ever eat breakfast there, and it's another kid-oriented place, so I'd say chances are you won't get any gourmet dishes there, unless a chocolate-covered banana is your idea of gourmet. But I'm probably wrong in that generalization.

Finally, all of the hotels also have lovely restaurants. Any of them are definitely worth trying. Some favorites are Narcoossee's, which I mentioned, the Hawaiian Luau at the Polynesian is (was? I haven't been in years) very cool, and the Beach/Yacht Club Hotels share Beaches N' Cream, a soda fountain with amazing sundaes. Chef Mickey's at the Contempory is very fun (character dining with a buffet of good, not unusual at all, but quality food... and a soft serve bar). There are more worth mentioning that I'm leaving out, too.

And if you are traveling to Disney and staying at a Disney hotel, I highly recommend the dining plan. The dining plan is a fairly recent (just a few years ago) addition, and basically you pay $39 per person, per day for a snack, a counter-service meal (entree, soft drink, dessert) and a sit-down meal (currently same as counter-service, but used to also contain appetizer). You're left paying for tip (at sit-down) and alcohol (usually just at sit-down). It's really not a bad deal. I hear they also have meal plans that are 3 sit-downs per person, per day, for $69 (I believe), but I have yet to meet the person who could eat all that, and one that I think is 2 counter services and a snack, or something like that.

So yes, you could bring your own food to Disney World, but unless you have severe dietary restrictions, I don't suggest you do that. You don't want to miss this food.

Disney World, meal by meal

I had a quick trip to Disney World this past weekend. Originally I wasn't going to go, but when my parents emailed me their flight info, I just felt so... sad. then the next day, my advisor and I decided on late October/early November for a defense date, and I decided that I could spare a 3 day weekend at least 2 months before the date. My annual pass is also still good, so it'd be a shame not to use it, right?

I landed 35 min early on Friday night. My parents met me at the hotel with food (roast beef sandwich and tiny cupcake from the Beach Club gift shop). This was the start of a tasty weekend.

Saturday, Epcot: breakfast at The Land (egg, cheese and bacon croissant, yum). Lunch at the Akershus is Norway. Now, this used to be my favorite restaurant. I like Norwegian food, perhaps because of my heritage, but maybe just because I like seafood and strange cheeses. I think it's not hte most popular restaurant. Many years ago, it was a buffet: a hot buffet and a cold buffet. Then they switched to a cold buffet and they'd bring the hot dishes to your table, which mostly included what the hot buffet once had. Around this time, they also made it into character dining with the Disney Princesses- it makes sense, the restaurant looks like a medieval castle. Then they had the hot dishes be one per person (all you can eat is a little much, really). Now the only traditional Norwegian hot dish is the krotkake, a meat ball-type thing, the rest of teh dishes include pan seared salmon with mushroom soup or seafood chowder (no more jarlsburg cheese soup! :( ), pan seared chicken over bean stew, bbq pulled pork, etc. They also took all the variety of herrings from the cold buffet (leaving one type of herring), the gjetost (caramelized goat cheese), the lefse (potato pancakes), most of the unusual types of meat, the cucumber salad, the cold scrambled egg to be eaten with the smoked salmon, etc etc. The cold buffet is basically a salad bar with salami, jarslburg and munster cheeses, turkey, mackerel, and smoked salmon. It's not terribly Norwegian. It also costs a fortune, so I think I might give up on that restaurant, until they go back to the Norwegian point.

After lunch we proceeded to Germany and Dad and I drank our way around the world (Mom got wine in Germany but no more). We were lucky enough to show up in Germany just as the clock struck 4:

Saturday dinner: France, at the Chefs du France. We rediscovered this place 3 or 4 years ago, and had a wonderful dinner. This time was merely fine. Part of my problem was they were heavy on red meat, none of which I was in the mood for, so I had the ahi tuna, which was overcooked although still tasty, just kind of boring. The desserts were pretty awesome, chocolate mousse with coconut ice cream (also supposed to have bananas of some sort, which were absent), and rhubarb compote on a butter cookie with strawberry mint sorbet (which was OMG delicious). It revived my desire to make my own sorbets and ice creams.

Sunday: we had breakfast at the Main St Bakery in Magic Kingdom (honey-glazed cinnamon buns and coffee all around- these are the best cinnamon buns in Disney World, and believe me, I've tried a lot of cinnamon buns).

We took tea at the Grand Floridian as a late lunch, which was lovely as always. We usually have the Buckingham tea, which includes tea sandwiches (watercress and cucumber, chicken, egg salad, shrimp salad, and pear-gorgonzola, with a caramelized onion tart), scone and raspberry tart with devonshire cream, choice of strawberries and cream or two pastries from the pastry tray, and your own pot of tea. This time we splurged and had the Grand Tea. This is basically the Buckingham plus a glass of champagne (with a strawberry stuck on the rim, a great idea, it really improves your perception of the champagne to smell the strawberry as you drink) and some pate. I was apprehensive about the pate, but it was ok. Honestly, it tasted like chicken sausage.

We stopped for a snack at the candy store on Main St between lunch and dinner, and mom and I split a beautiful cupcake. We were impressed to find that it tasted as good as it looked- I had my doubts. The next day we tried the chocolate cupcake, which was even better (and I usually prefer vanilla cake)

Finally, for dinner, we had the best meal of the weekend. We dined at Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian, which has a perfect view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. For those of you on the meal plan, this counts as two sit-down meals per person. It's a splurge, but I think it's really worth it. I began with a passion fruit mojito. This was the best mojito I'd had, up to that point (that would change the next day). It was just a classic mojito, with passion fruit nectar added. This is the restaurant that serves a slab of butter sprinkled with special Hawaiian sea salt- I couldn't remember what restaurant did that, so I was happy to finally answer that question. This sea salt is tangy, very unlike regular salt, so that was a great touch. My entree was scallops over corn and crab risotto, and OMG yum. Mom had steamed lobster, which was actually prepared in a really wussy way- everything was all cut up, she had no need of lobster crackers. However, this is the south, where they don't know Maine lobster like we New Englanders know Maine lobster. Dad had surf and turf, which was a buttery lobster tail and some kind of steak. We were all very happy. For dessert dad had the gelato sample (vanilla, fig, blackberry and chocolate, all in little tiny square cups, each with its own spoon), and mom and I had the sugar free dessert, which was a mixture of fruit and three small scoops of sugar-less mango sorbet. Another bump on my desire to make my own sorbet. Sugar is absolutely not necessary in certain sorbets. Since I have my dreaded pineapple allergy, I made sure the fruit wasn't all pineapple (Katy might remember that time we went to Legal, I got the fruit dessert, assuming they'd never put pineapple in, and it turned out to be just pineapple. Sigh.), which it actually was, so I got strawberries and raspberries, while mom got the regular fruit mix- which had exactly one piece of pineapple. Ah, well. I liked my fruit mix better anyway.

Yum, yum, yum.

Monday we went to MGM (Hollywood studios, whatever). Dad and I always go on Tower of Terror, then meet mom for breakfast at the bakery place kind of around the corner from the Brown Derby, also around the corner from what used to be the villains store and is now a candy store. We dined on cinnamon rolls and apple turnover, both of which were merely adequate (compared to the other things we ate all weekend).

For lunch we went to the Prime Time Cafe, which is better for the atmosphere than the food- mostly because it's not really my type of food. The best dishes here are the meatloaf and the pot roast. I don't eat pot roast, and while I eat meatloaf, I'd never choose it over anything else. Dad had meatloaf (and loved it) and Mom and I had the chicken pot pie- very, very good. For dessert I had the brownie sundae (which was: brownie, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream, m&ms and caramel corn. Very impressive). Mom had a simple hot fudge sundae, and Dad had the s'mores. Then we all felt very, very ill.

We went back to the hotel later on, since it was starting to rain, and stopped in the Crew Cup at the Yacht Club hotel, which was supposed to have a great variety of beers. (Disney World, in general, is not the place for the beer connoisseur. Beer is decent in Epcot, but no where else). We were disappointed in this place's beer list: all the typical crap (bud, bud light, michelob, etc etc etc), and 2 types of Sam Adams, Newcastle and Heineken. That was about it.... so dad had a Newcastle, mom had a mango champagne thingy, and I had THE best mojito ever. It was your basic mojito, but with Barritt's ginger soda instead of seltzer/club soda. OMG YUM. I love ginger, so it was definitely my kind of drink. I wonder if this is the ginger beer that Sherry uses in her Dark and Stormies....

For dinner we ate at the counter service place in France (dad had fish and chips from England). Mom and I split a ham and cheese croissant and the cheese plate (brie, some kind of swiss, and munster). I also had a glass of French wine, a Vouvray, I believe. It was nice. The gewurtztraminer I had in Germany on Saturday was the best wine of the weekend, though. I also had an Oro d'unito or something like that in Italy, and a pinot gris for dinner in France on Saturday night.

Tuesday I left :( Mom ran and got me a cinnamon bun from the gift shop, which opened 10 minutes before the bus picked me up. It was the same type of bun as at the bakery in MGM. It was fine.

I brought home a caramel apple, some Mickey rice krispie treats (which are cuter than they are tasty, I think they use Marshmallow fluff) and a package of chocolate covered pretzels. This week I am dining on salad.

We saw a lovely rainbow (you can see a hint of the second rainbow to the right) on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A quickie

A more detailed post will follow, but somone posted this on ravelry, and I was highly amused/indignant and wanted to share.

This is from Yarn Harlot's blog, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a knitter who has written several books on knitting. She is basically a professional knitter.

Text from the blog entry:

An Actual Conversation

Yesterday afternoon I was knitting on the subway, headed toward Rachel H's house so that we could go up to the Aurora Guild and drink beer and eat butter tarts speak to the guild. (Good times.) I sat there, going round and round on a sock with four DPNs, and a woman and her son, maybe 7 or eight years old, got on and sat opposite me. The boy watched me for a little bit, and then turned to his mum and said
"What's she doing?" The mum looks and me, then turns to him and says, quite confidently
"She's crocheting". I smile at the pair of them, and then I say to the little boy
"Actually, it's knitting!"
...and the mum looks at me, quirks her eyebrow up, and says, in a haughty and reproachful voice:

"Excuse me... I think I know the difference."

I have my own knitting story from my trip, which I'll share, along with the tasty foods I partook in.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Something new

Someone in the WRJ Yarn shop (White River Yarns) group on Ravelry posted photos of the roving she dyed with Kool-aid. And, oops, I looked at it and became intrigued. She gave me this how-to website, so you know when I next have money I'm buying me some knitpicks bare.

Just what I need, another hobby!

Also, I made more scones last night, from the recipe of the previous post. Now, this is where it's evident I'm a little off my rocker. I'm going to Disney World tonight, I got home at 10 last night, after a long lab day and a spur-of-the-moment trip to the gym. At 10pm, I thought, oh, I'll make scones. Um, what?! I hadn't even packed yet, and I'm a tad anal when it comes to packing. I knew I could leave it til this morning, but that would be a bad idea because I have a good amount of labwork before I have to leave for the airport at 4:15pm. And aside from having little free time in which to make the scones, I'm going away for several days, and I can't take all of them with me, so what's teh point, really? No idea.

Well, anyway. I made them, with 2 fresh peaches and a couple handfuls (um... a 1/2 cup? not enough, in my mind) of crystallized ginger that I minced in the mini food processor. I learned something. Peaches are a bit wet for this. The dough was not dough, it was batter. I had to make drop scones. They're good, but definitely different than the others. I prefer the first batch.

I made 11 scones (that's all I could fit on the pan, I ate the rest of the batter, yummm): 4 of them are coming on the plane with me, I ate one fresh out of the oven, and 6 of them will have to go in the freezer. At least I can have tasty scones for breakfast when I return!

I'll try to give a full report of Disney World food when I return. Our eating plans include Japan, Norway (the sit-down restaurants in Epcot), Narcoosee's (at the Grand Floridian), afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian, and the Prime Time Cafe at MGM. Except for Narcoosee's, which we only started going to since the dining plan came about (we used to always go there for lunch, but they stopped serving lunch in the mid 1990's), these are all our favorites. We may also hit the downstairs sit-down restaurant in France, another new addition to our dining repertoire.

And that's why I had to go to the gym last night. And every night next week, and the next week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Post-gym dinner: scones and smoothies

Last night, I made scones. I found this recipe from KAF several weeks ago, really intended to make them, but did not until last night. I even went out and bought dried cherries. But yesterday, for some reason, I really wanted to make scones.

I got home late, since I went to the gym after lab, and got to work.
2 and 3/4 cups flour (I used 1-3/4 cup all-purpose and 1cup cake flour, because I have a ton of cake flour and don't actually like to use it in cakes, and it may or may not have made a difference- I so seldomly use cake flour that I don't really know)
1T baking powder
3/4t salt
1/3cup sugar
Whisk all that together.

Then blend in one stick of cold butter, chopped up into small-ish pieces.

Then add in your fruit/nut/whatever. I used 1-1/2 cup dried tart cherries, but I was also considering using fresh blueberries- but then I decided I'd have those for lunch today. Raspberries would also be really good. Someone commented on the recipe on the KAF site and said she used crystallized ginger, and I really like that idea. The possibilities are endless.

Then: in a separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, 1/2 to 2/3cup of milk (this confused me... I can see it being like pie crust, you add enough liquid until it comes together, but if you do it like this, you don't really want to stop short of the whole mix because you need the eggs... I added 1/2cup to the mix and figured I'd add more milk if I needed it) and flavoring: I did vanilla. Add this slowly to the flour/butter mixture, until it comes together.

Don't overbeat this, it has baking powder and will become hockey puck-like if you do.

Then: pat the dough into 2 6 inch rounds, and score into 6 wedges. Freeze for 30 min, uncovered. All the comments said this was optional but really, really good. I can't argue with this. I think they would have been flatter and spread out if I hadn't frozen them. This recipe also produced a far fluffier scone than my usual recipes, closer to what I get in restaurants that act like they specialize in scones.

Before baking brush with milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar (white sugar is good enough). Bake at 425 for 20-25 min. Eat as soon as they're cool enough to handle, because YUM.

I had my peach "nectar" smoothie last night for dinner (I always have a smoothie after going to the gym, solid food doesn't appeal to me after 40 min on the elliptical). My smoothie was an odd flavor combination, since I only had blueberry yogurt, and was sure I had one vanilla left. My smoothies always include: a piece of fruit or handful of frozen berries, one container of non-fat yogurt, 3-4 ice cubes, enough fruit juice to make it slurpable through a straw, and a spoonful of ice cream or gelato. Last night was: blueberry yogurt, coconut gelato, 1 peach and slushy peach nectar. It was a random assortment of flavors, but yum.

My dinner was smoothie, and once the scones were out of the oven, 2 scones. Then this morning, I practically ran through my morning routine so I could sit down at the table with 2 scones and my coffee. I might have to bake another batch on Thursday to bring on the plane with me. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Cornish Fair: or, how to make some pocket change

This past weekend was the Cornish Fair in Cornish, NH. A friend and I decided we'd enter some of our crafts in the fair, which had an extensive craft show. (well, more accurately, Lois, who owns White River Yarns in WRJ mentioned the Cornish Fair to us at a knit night in July, since she was to be one of the knitting category judges, and I jumped at this opportunity). D entered seven items: two jewelery sets, 3 single pieces of jewelery, a silver cast leaf, and a photograph. I entered 5 items: knitted socks (my recently-finished muscari socks), a quilt I finished in 2002, a necklace I made some time within the past year, my newly-perfected Lime-Peach Pie (inspired by peach margaritas) and my pride and joy, my duck sauce cookies.

D did very well, all of her jewelery and her silver leaf took ribbons (all first place but for one, which took second). My socks won third place,
my quilt won second place (picture to be added later...)
and my necklace won first.

My baked goods, however.... sigh.
Now, I'm bordering on being a sore loser. I am fully aware of that. I'm kind of mentally kicking myself in the rear for being a poor sport, but I think I'm allowed, a little bit. My duck sauce cookies, which are not your typical cookie, were judged as having "overwhelming citrus flavors". sigh! (Edit: sorry, the comment actually was, "the orange overwhelms the other flavors"; I checked the tag last night. They did, however, compliment me on the appearance of my cookies... so at least they're pretty!) There's the zest of half an orange in a batch of dough that makes 75 or so cookies, and no one has ever recognized orange flavor among the other flavors. The winning cookies were (in this order): chocolate chip, jam sandwich cookies, and oatmeal raisin. So maybe my duck sauce cookies are too "out there" for Cornish.

But the pie! The pie is awesome. They're idiots.

1 batch Martha Stewart's pate brisee (aka never-fail pie crust of awesomeness)
a lot of peaches, enough to fill the pie dish (I used 18 and got two pies)
2T vanilla
1 lime: zested and juiced
3T cornstarch
3T sugar

Blanch the peaches to remove the skins. Dice, and strain, strain, strain to get as much liquid removed as possible (I saved the peach "nectar" and tonight will try it in a smoothie). Zest the lime, juice the lime, add that all to the peaches. Add the vanilla and the cornstarch and the sugar, mix it all up, put it in the pie crust-lined pan. Treat it like you would any pie, etc etc. Bake, etc.

So, as I mentioned before, this is a LIME-peach pie. LIME. Inspired by margaritas. Very limey. The comment on my beautiful pie was that it had "overwhelming citrus flavor". First we note: huh, same exact judge, giving the same exact comment on my cookies. Second, we note: um, it's a LIME-peach pie. LIME. This is like saying, "your lemon meringue pie is too lemony, ugh." What we have here is a judge who doesn't like citrus. This is not impartial judging.

I just feel insulted that my poor pie was deemed inedible in this way. If the comments had been something along the lines of "bland taste", "too bitter", "too sweet" or "crust under/overcooked", or even "this flavor combination doesn't work", this would have been acceptable. But to base the ranking on one person's personal preferences! sigh.

So, moral of the story: I'm not entering a pie in a competition in NH again. I think "my perfect pie" is not their perfect pie. I prefer to lose myself in intense and unusual flavors. I think they would faint at my Thanksgiving ginger-apple-cranberry pie, the goal of which is to clear your sinuses. The perfect pie for the Cornish Fair, in my opinion, would be a simple, classic, macintosh apple pie. Also, peach pies cost a fortune to make. I can't afford it!

One last thing about the Cornish Fair. Geography of western NH: I live in Lebanon. If you go about 3 miles west, you get to West Lebanon (...huh!). If you turn south in West Leb, down Rt 12A, you pass through Plainfield, and finally Cornish, a total of 12 miles from West Lebanon. It was about 22 miles to get from my house to the fair, which was in the depths of Cornish, down a winding 6+ mile long dead end road. I equate this trip with going from West Hartford to the new(ish) shopping area in Canton. Not a long trip, something you can just hop in the car and do without planning. (well, I can, anyway). When I got to Cornish on Thursday evening to enter my items in the food and craft exhibits, I gave my address. When I said, Lebanon, the woman stopped and stared. Gaping mouth, look of awe, the whole bit. "Lebanon!" she breathes. "Yes, Lebanon," I respond. Her: "How did you come allll the way from Lebanon?!" Me: um... (wtf? all the way? all the way what? it's 20 minutes away!) I told her I knew someone who was involved with the fair, and heard about it from her. She couldn't get over I came all the way from Lebanon! I still don't know how to respond to that! It was really funny. I guess people in Cornish don't leave Cornish. (ugh, they should, though, there's not much there aside from a couple historic sites and at least 3 covered bridges)

My next adventures: D and I, along with our men, are entering items in the Tunbridge World's Fair. The categories are arranged differently, so I'll be entering a jewelery item, several knitted goods, and maybe two types of cookies- perhaps duck sauce as well as something plain and simple. Tunbridge is Vermont, so while it's rural, maybe it doesn't think it's quite so rural.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food Meme

I wish blogger had something similar to a lj cut. Oh, well.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Italicize any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Star* things that you'd really like to try eating.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue (I have it for dinner often!)
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses (yum! I love this stuff)
17. Black truffle*
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (blueberry! apple!)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (thanks, Michelle)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi* (I don't like sweet lassis, but I wonder if I would like a salty one... maybe not)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I hate cigars)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly* (I'm intrigued)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal * (wiki says this is a very hot curry, hotter than vindaloo... I don't find vindaloo that hot, so I could try phaal- then again, I'm going by a restaurant that Indian people won't go to)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (thanks, Clint)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (does last night's gin martini with concentrated olive drippings count?)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (um, these are all very, very different... all quite tasty, though)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (ew)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (never together, though)
73. Louche absinthe*
74. Gjetost, or brunost (YUM. I heart gjetost tons and tons. Caramelized goat cheese, you can't go wrong with that!)
75. Roadkill (but I know someone whose father sells it at his shop)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (Michelle's are the best)
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. *
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate*
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa*
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

some of these are less exotic than others... such as the ones I make for myself on a regular basis.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another swap!

The Starbucks and Yarn swap is almost done (I know, I haven't sent the package yet, but I'm very close- definitely will finish it by Sunday), so I signed up for the Falling For Ewe Autumn Yarn Swap. I saw it and considered, and then Bird signed up, so I thought I really would.

Anyway, the questionnaire.

Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft?
Knit. I find crocheting extremely awkward. I learned to knit when I was 8, and picked it up again in college because it was popular. I've knit feverishly through all 6 years of grad school.

Do you spin? What type of spinning do you do?
No, but I might get into it in the future.

Are there any other crafts that you participate in?
All my free time is spent crafting ;) Cooking, quilting, cross-stitching (although seldomly these days), card-making with scrapbooking supplies, jewelry

What are your favorite yarns/fibers?
I like soft, natural fibers. I don't have any specific favorites yet.

What are your LEAST favorite yarns/fibers?
um... I hate Lamb's Pride and any similar 1-ply things. It feels awful in my hands, for some reason, it just rubs them the wrong way, like nails on a chalkboard.

Are there any types/brands of yarn that you are dying to work with but haven’t gotten a chance?
I keep hearing about Blue Sky Alpaca, and I haven't been able to find it in my LYS. There are many, many yarns I want to try, mostly alpacas and cotton blends that I just can't afford enough for a good project.

What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?
I love socks... really, I love anything that has minimal finishing to do. I hate blocking things, and sewing all pieces together, and weaving in the ends. Socks have 2 ends, and that's it. They're also easy to fit; same with hats. I'd love scarves if I found some better patterns. I'm trying to do more cardigans, because they'd be easier to fit than pullover sweaters.

What are you currently working on? Anything you plan to start this autumn?
I just cast on my second clapotis, I'm working on a wedding garter for the Ravelympics, I should finish the Papillion sweater I started when the Spring (I think) Knitscene came out, and I cast on the Phyllo Yoked Pullover a couple months ago and have only done a couple inches. I may start a bucket hat to felt, and I'll make some more socks as Christmas gifts.

What is your favorite FO? (Please, post a picture if you would like.)
I love my clap, and the Muscari socks I recently finished (photos on ravelry).

What is your oldest UFO?
heh. Actually, not too bad. I started Tatania by Berroco in 2004, and there's an error in the pattern, on the front shoulders. It's a simple fix, just increase instead of decrease, but I haven't returned to it. I imagine it will be difficult to block because I used cheap acrylic, so subconsiously, I'm not sure it's worth it.

Are their any knitting/crochet techniques that you would like to learn?
I need to learn different ways to cast on, and I still can't figure out toe-up socks.

Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
yes. size 10 (big feet are better for weight distribution!)

Do you have a yarn winder and/or a swift?
I have a fiance, he's just as good.

Where/how to you keep you needles/hooks?
Some in a Simon Pearce ceramic vase, and some in a ceramic vase I made in high school. Not very organized, but I can easily see what I have.

Do you collect anything?
Rubber duckies, glass suncatchers, coffee-related doodads, cookbooks, shoes, supplies for making cards and supplies for making jewelry (beads, etc)

What is your favorite type of music? Are you MP3 ready?
I like quite a variety, but probably mostly renaissance and baroque choral music. I prefer Green Day and Alien Ant Farm, etc to play while working. I have a two-year old iPod.

Do you like sweets? What are your favorites?
Yes. I like gummy candy (gum-drop consistency more than gummi bears), licorice, chocolate things (especially caramels), baked goods, cake, pie, ice cream... ooh I'm hungry. I also like cheese. I know it's not sweet, but I love cheese.

What is your living situation like? Any pets? Children?
I have a tiny kitten named Pansy- although she's not a kitten, just looks like one.

Are you allergic to anything?
Fresh pineapple, which shouldn't make a difference, and other things that don't matter (just don't give me any antibiotics, please).

Do you have an online wish list (Amazon, Etsy, Loopy Ewe, etc.)? Please include links for your swap pal.
On, under my full name.

Are you having a birthday during this swap?
no, in June :(

What is your Ravelry ID?

Edit: the swap coordinator mentioned she should have added a favorite color question to this. My favorite colors: pink. other shades of pink. also blue, in various shades, and brown is my favorite accent/neutral color.

Ice cream

Oh, my. I was watching the food channel last night, because synchronized diving was on NBC, and 10 minutes of that was plenty. "Unwrapped" was on. I enjoy this show, although Mark Summers annoys me (far more than he did on Double Dare). Anyway, last night was back to back Ice Cream episodes.

Warning: don't watch shows about ice cream when you don't have any in the house. This leads to unnecessary cravings. I usually have at least froyo for my post-gym smoothies, but I didn't even have that. And the nearby grocery store was closed, as was the local ice cream place. Sigh.

What I gather from these episodes were that I must have my own ice cream maker. Soon. I'm planning to register for the Kitchen Aid attachment one, but ugh my wedding is well over a year away. I might just have to get it myself.

A cooking school in Denver goes ice cream classes in the summer. I can't remember all the ones that made me drool, but black pepper was one that made me think. And I thought, I really need to incorporate ice cream into my appetizers. Ice cream does not need to be a sweet dessert concoction, it could easily be a mildly sweet, savory thing! And I then I made my yum/thinking noise, which needs to be put into letters.

Finally, they presented this website: Oh, my. You can design your own ice cream, and this clever young man in Chicago will make it for you, and mail it to you. (and then you get dry ice to play with) Check out the site. I'm in awe.

Unfortunately, it costs a fortune. A 1/2 gallon is $55 and shipping is $36.

This is why I need an ice cream maker, so I can make my own basil walnut gelato and pineapple ginger ice cream.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anti-social hobbies

One thing I appreciate about knitting, quilting (sans machine) and needlework is they allow you to be around and interact with other people while you're working. Non-crafters often don't understand this, and it seems to cause a lot of discussions among the crafters I know, about why others get so snippy when we knit/etc in certain settings, believing that anyone knitting/etc cannot possibly be paying attention. Apparently many believe we are constantly counting as we knit. Ha! I'm not that good a counter.

Well anyway, I usually just knit during certain types of social get-togethers. Sporting events, anything revolving around a tv or projector screen, that type of thing. Last night I knit at book club, which hopefully was ok. I usually don't say much anyway, because that's just my way, and I can listen quite well while knitting. I actually got a lot done on the clap, woohoo! I think it's about half done... I might need to buy more yarn, I'm not sure if it'll end up long enough by the time I run out of yarn. We'll see.

So that knitting seemed to go well. I can also knit very well while watching tv (except anything with subtitles). One thing I'd never combined, even though I'd considered it, was knitting and reading. I often (no, always) read while exercising, and most books have trouble staying open on the elliptical, so this might be one reason. I read while eating alone, using the remote, with the lovely rubbery buttons, to keep the book open. But reading while knitting? No, never.

Until yesterday. I bought a book (this is all Ann's fault, actually) called Twilight. You've probably heard of it, I think everyone has. It's creating a hype similar to Harry Potter. Well, I can't say I think it's a wonderfully-written book, with complex characters etc etc, but it's a really good page-turner. The kind that I can't put down. So when I realized I was about out of balled yarn for the clap and needed to wind another hank into a ball, I sat down with the book open in front of me, and wound and read. I found that quite easy, really. Almost habit. Then the ball finished (with my cat's help, she loves it when I wind skeins into balls), and I wanted to continue to knit, but I was at such a suspenseful part of the book! So I dove in, and yeah, it's not hard. The trick is to do something with a very simple repeat pattern that you don't even have to think about (forget lace), and have a book that stays open on its own. Also, the large-ish print of Twilight is quite helpful.

So.... it's no wonder it took me 18 hours to finish Twilight, which has nearly 500 pages.

The only problem is that you can't interact with other people while you're doing this. I suppose reading in any form is like that, unless you're reading aloud or something, or reading bits and then commenting in that obnoxious way I'm so good at (it's best when the other person is reading his/her own item, and would prefer that you shut it). Since I'm going to see my parents this weekend, I won't have much time to practice reading/knitting. Oh, well. I should cast on something else so I can save the repetitious clap for New Moon (the sequel).

ps. I loooooooove the clap. I have plans for two more, if I ever have enough money for the yarn. I got a raise, though, so maybe that'll help....?