Tuesday, September 30, 2008

oh my, lol

Someone on ravelry posted this, and I had to share.

Appley goodness!

I finally made those apple cupcakes I've been dreaming of! Yesterday was terribly unproductive in terms of thesis, so I decided to do what non-thesis things I would have done on Sunday if Sunday'd been less productive. And voila, cupcakes. These are good.

The recipe: I used apples that were unlabeled (my grocery store loves to get apples from the local orchards, but they never say what they are. I grabbed a bag from the Mac/Cortland table, and maybe they're macs, but I think they taste better- they're juicy, sweet apples, anyway), peeled them with my lovely apple peeler/corer, shredded them with a fun new grater I got at TJ Maxx over the weekend, and basically followed the recipe, no changes.

The batter's delish, it's much richer than I would expect. I didn't shred the apples finely, so there are nice chunks of apple throughout.

I frosted them with some cinnamon cream cheese frosting:
1 stick RT butter
1 8oz package RT cream cheese (I used the neufchatel kind, maybe the frosting's a little softer than if I used full fat, but whatever, it's still good)
some vanilla
a lot of cinnamon- maybe 1T
3-4 cups of confectioner's sugar, until it's stiff enough.

Beat and pipe. Then have a spoonful of frosting, it's quite good with coffee, and it'll kick start your morning. :)

On Saturday we went to the farmer's market, and our friend Emily was there with her dahlia stand.

She has nice flowers.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall foods

Falling for Ewe Swap question of the week #3:
What foods mean "fall" to you?

Well, in general, anything with apples or pumpkin as a main ingredient. The food I've been most excited to have this fall has been mulled cider... and it was worth waiting for! I hope to find a recipe for a quick pumpkin bread this fall, and I have serious plans to make lots of apple foods... starting this weekend with some apple cupcakes. I also love when candy corn is everywhere, we opened a bag of the candy corn-like pumpkinse last and ate about half...

I have high hopes for the cupcakes- I even bought a new pastry trip for frosting them, and fun striped cupcake wrappers. However, they are my reward for finishing the first draft of my thesis, so I have to write write write before I'm allowed to make them! Fortunately, at this point, I have outlines for the last two sections, and I should be able to finish writing them before heading home tonight. YAY.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pretty little things

I love these. I'm waiting to get enough money to buy them
Aren't they adorable? These stitch markers were made by a woman I went to grad school with, who has recently decided to put all her effort into her etsy shop, weeones. There was a really interesting interview recently, which was even more interesting because I know her. Plus, she makes beautiful things.

I also love these knitting needles, what a wonderful idea!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An idea

I just had this idea, kind of inspired by a post on the Knit n' Bake group on Ravelry...

cheese fondue.... with donuts. Dip the donuts in the fondue, like instead of whatever lovely artisan bread you'd dip. mmm.

I made cookies last night. I will talk about those later, I'm in the library, "writing". Well, I will write, just as soon as I click "publish"....


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I should start a wist.

Of course, it'd be filled with food-related items, otherwise I wouldn't post it here. wamozart12 cooks, after all.

Look at this. Buy your own gum paste.
Gum paste (and fondant, the key difference is that gum paste is softer than fondant, and stays soft if it touches buttercream. however, gum paste is often used to make fondanty decorations (i.e. placed on top of rolled fondant, which is on top of buttercream) is not exactly easy to make. You need weird ingredients (incidentally, these are items I use regularly in lab, but I'm not about to bring bottles of reagents home to use to make a cake).

KAF also sells this cupcake pan I've featured before, and since I can actually get to KAF any time I want (whereas WS requires a 2.5hr drive), I might run over there... or perhaps request gift cards for Christmas. O.O

But really, the goal I had when I got side tracked by all these lovelies was unique cupcake wrappers. My grocery store has the regular ones (pastel pink, yellow or blue, with or without the silver wrapper) and the all natural, organic, vegan, no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-these-cupcake-wrappers kind (because I live in the UV). I want fun ones! Little orange pumpkins, or christmas trees, or hearts or flowers or stripes or polka dots. Anything. If the cupcakes themselves are lovely, why must they have such dull wrappers?
These are lovely, but $12.95/dozen, so not ideal.

Searching for wrappers... these white filigreed ones are lovely, but $12.95/dozen- not ideal.

However, here are Lilly Pulitzer meets J Crew meets cupcake wrappers.... perfect! $4 for a package of 80, from fancyflours.com. They have a nice variety, including the above filigreed ones (which I originally found on amazon.com)

Oh, hello yumminess!

I saw this on Cupcakes Take the Cake today. Can we say yum? I totally want to bake some cupcakes tonight. Or chocolate chip cookies... oh, or both.(photo swiped from the CTtC post, property of them and the people they swiped it from)

They're classic vanilla cupcakes with a dollop of chocolate chunk cookie dough instead of frosting. They say:
Despite the slight risk of Salmonella and other food-bourne illnesses, cookie dough has probably been eaten by every American since the raw dough craze took off in the early 1990’s — in ice creams, refrigerated tubes, and straight from the mixing bowl. Here it’s transplanted on a vanilla cupcake as a frosting substitute. When I brought these to a cupcake social hosted by Rachel and Nichelle of Cupcakes Take the Cake last week (just something I scraped together on a whim, which I’ll describe further below), I had no idea the reception they would receive. Rachel’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I told her what was on them — no, it’s not chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored frosting, it’s really the raw dough. This is more or less the same reaction that occurred with everyone else at the party once they found out.

However.... cookie dough ice cream doesn't actually have eggs in the cookie dough. Honestly, I have a few reservations on the safety of this recipe (see above link), but doesn't it look good? I'll let you know if I find an egg-less cookie dough recipe. The egg-less stuff is not as good a dough as regular, but it might be safer to make in advance than eggy dough.

Edit: ha, I knew I'd find an egg-less cookie dough if I used teh interwebs! This recipe is from Lynette's kitchen (oops, with a broken link) by way of Tori at mamabaker.wordpress.com, who posted her recipe as a comment on CTtC. (side note: Tori has a nice blog, I'd check it out)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate with a kick

This past weekend was my 10 year high school reunion (more on that later). On the way down, we stopped at the Vermont Country Deli, just off Exit 2 on I-91. I've been to this place a few times, not often, but now I know I need to go there far more often. This place has such a variety of tasty foods, and I thought it'd be the perfect place to go to assemble a care package for someone far away.

Many things (aside from the fresh food and made-to-order sandwiches of deliciousness- we had the I-91 Italian and Route 9 Roast beef) are local (northern NE, not specifically southern VT), but many are not, but are simply amazingly good and worth shipping about.

Chocolove XOXO contains a love poem on the inside of the wrapper, and for an unconventional flavor, might I recommend Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate?It's good quality dark chocolate with bits of dried cherries and chili powder- so it's spicy! This would be pretty awesome with a full red wine (not with the pink merlot I was drinking last night, that was fine with my Big E maple sugar).

I should do an entry on wine and candy pairings. I eat/drink enough of both to have some advice...

I also picked up some licorice, because I love licorice and I especially love it in the car (it can settle one's stomach if one needs that). I try just about every new type of licorice I come across, and so far I love the bridge mix the local grocery coop sells, which I believe is by Jelly Belly, and also Panda Licorice (especially the raspberry sticks), but on Friday I found Darrell Lea Soft Licorice, and yum! They also had it in green apple, which I was tempted to try, but Clint was buying and I didn't want to be greedy. Just now, looking around for a photo, I've found they have about 4 other flavors, including raspberry, strawberry and ginger. Hmm.As you can probably tell from this image, Amazon.com sells it, so ooooh, you non-Vermonters can get it, too! It'd actually be cheaper, 8 packages from amazon.com is $36, and I paid $6 for one bag (not counting shipping, of course). It's super soft, but not in a gummi bear way, more of a soft gumdrop way, almost like fondant- but softer. The point is, it doesnt' stick to your teeth. Also, very nice flavor.

Edit: last night I went to the grocery store, headed over to the candy section to buy Clint more of the Chili Cherry Chocolate, because I'd polished it off while studying in the library, and felt guilty, and discovered.... Darrell Lea Licorice! For $2.39- and here I was, saying amazon.com was cheap. I bought original (as pictured above), mango and green apple. I also got Dagoba chocolate (previously seen on the food channel) in lemon ginger dark chocolate, and a whole bunch of fruit leathers... I had kind of a sugar-high night.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kaputt: Ein blog auf Deutsch.

Ich habe mein kaffee-mahler gebrochen. Oder, mein kaffee-mahler habe sich gemahlen.

Ich brauche ein zweiter. Wieviel kosten den?

(Intended translation, because my German is extremely rusty: I broke my coffee grinder. I tend to switch to German when thinking/talking about coffee.)

In other news, I'm sorely undercaffeinated because I can never make coffee strong enough using pre-ground grounds. yech. I tried to buy one as I was hurriedly running errands today, and stopped in Kohl's for some Hose without Toes (no, they do not carry that), and they don't seem to carry coffee grinders. I'll have to stop at Board & Basket sometime.

Knitting update

I'm usually good about not having too many WPIs around. UFOs are another story- those have been set aside indefinitely. but WPIs, that's different.

I have a bunch now, I think too many. However, one is nearly done, one is half done, one I'm enjoying thoroughly (probably because it's fairly mindless compared to everything else) and one... I'll probably enjoy more once I get more into the pattern.

I have a handful of Christmas gifts-to-be to be worked on, and I think I've chosen patterns and at least have an idea of the yarn to use for all of them. For the most part, they are small-ish accessory items, so I hope I could finish 3 a month. This is, of course, assuming I get all my current WPIs out of the way first.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Too cute!

House-Mouse Designs has a new cast of characters, the Happy Hoppers! I haven't been much into House-Mouse lately, but I just love this design:
Follow-up top my last post: I overnighted the dress to my mom, and she'll take it to our seamstress, who will hopefully have time to sew in a new zipper by Friday! Overnighting it wasn't horribly expensive, but then again, the dress probably weighs about 1 lb... I hope I never have to overnight anything heavy.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, I got my shoes, and they're awesome.

Then I went to try them on with the dresses (look great! yay!) and MY RED DRESS BROKE. Dammit. I am so upset right now! 1. the red dress is brand new, and 2. now what am I going to wear to reunion?

:( >goes off and cries<

Falling For Ewe Swap Question of the week #2

What ‘cold weather’ project are you looking forward to making the most the autumn?

I'll be making some of the new knitty.com socks, for me and as Christmas gifts. I'll also probably make clapotis for myself with my new red mohair (assuming 500yds is enough). I had hopes to make myself a cardigan, but I probably won't start it til the winter, and there is one cold-weather item I have high hopes to start, but it's top-secret.

If I'm able to make that top-secret one, I bet it'll be my favorite, but I am looking forward to using my new blue sock yarn from Saturday for socks for me.

Other WIPs include baby items for the big baby boom of Jan-April 2009. So far I'm nearly done with a recently-found baby sweater UFO, and I'm working on a pinwheel blanket.

I also need to finalize my Christmas gift list, and figure out what I'm really making for everyone, I have 5 projects to start and 1 to finish, but I only know what two of those projects will be, and have no yarn for any of it.

Fun at the Fair, part 2: The Tunbridge Fair


I'll add more photos later, but here's one I took this morning, after gathering together all my winnings (i.e. all my entries)
We went out to the fair, and it was kind of promising in the morning... rainy, but cloudy, and it got progressively muggier and grosser as the day went on, so by the time we got there at 3:15 or so, it was disgusting and sunny. The yellow jackets were having a blast, ugh. We parked right across from the far entrance, which is right where Floral Hall, home of the exhibits, is, so went there immediately. We all won! Such success among the three of us (me, Clint and D). We browsed around the rest of the fair, but were all very glad we got there late-ish in the afternoon, because by 5 or so, we were bored. We ate, saw animals, saw vendors selling crap, saw weird-looking people (D and I felt very stylish, in our jeans, plain shoes appropriate for mud, and normal tshirts- our clothes actually fit properly and we don't have flesh spilling out all over. That's fashion!), saw more animals, had free cheese samples, saw vegetables, saw midway rides, had maple sugar candy (yummm), not quite in that order, and at the end, returned early to Floral Hall, where we were told we'd have to get in line to pick up our stuff. D got in the stuff line, I got in the money line, Clint and G went to the car for our bags, and we went at it. I'm very impressed by their organization- two money lines, alphabetical by last name, and in the pick-up-your-stuff line, you said your name and got your sheet from a woman, then moved over and had one volunteer take your sheet and walk with you through the exhibits to grab each of your items. D, G and Clint did that. I waited in the food line, where they gathered all the ribbons and tags from each food item and stuck them to your sheet. Then you say your name, and they give you your sheet, which is covered in ribbons. (I found mine a very impressive sight).

Then we went home in a very round-about way, up a mountain on a dirt road (ah, Vermont), saw deer, horses, a llama (which is the red thing I had a nightmare about a few years ago, I'm sure), cows, oxen and Cujo, and got back on the main road.... and then drove by the fair again. So much for shortcuts!

I think we all had a really good time, despite the disgusting weather.

Photos to be added later, but for now, here's a link to my Tunbridge Fair set in flickr

ps. we all won money. I won quite a bit of money- just a few dollars short of paying for yesterday's yarn purchases :) extremely pleased.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun at the Fair, part 1: The Big E

Yesterday was day 1 of the Fair Weekend: The Big E in Agawam, MA. Clint and I joined my parents there in the morning. We had to stop first for 2nd breakfast (first breakfast was scones in the car)
2nd breakfast was had in the Rhode Island building (you can't see in this photo, but the building says "Rhode Island" right above the main entrance. We dined on clam fritters- my favorite fair food.

Clint and I washed our fritters down with some Del's frozen lemonade.

We went through all the state buildings (RI, MA, ME, NH, CT, VT- I think I got that order right...?), stopping in MA to say hi to Smokey the Bear, snack on chocolate milk, raspberries and maple goodies.

The CT building had a nice United Technologies exhibit (where my dad works), and also a stand with some really nice-looking tomato-mozzarella salad that many others seemed to enjoy.

The NH building had some really pretty stained glass windows, as well as a granite map of NH in front. Clint and I tried to stand on our towns... and we do really live in Northern NH.

We paused in VT for beer, cider donuts (which were saved for this morning's breakfast) and yarn oggling- check out these adorable felted alpaca baby booties!!

We then met up with some of my parents' friends from the beach, and had lunch at the Storrowton Tavern. We dined on classic New England fair (baked scrod for Mom, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and butternut squash for Dad, a turkey club wrap for Clint, and chicken pot pie for me) and got to sit at proper tables- a nice change from normal fair meals.

After lunch, we saw animals:
Chicks! And a giant English Angora bunny! Also llamas, alpacas, ducks, and horses. We went to the cow/sheep building, where some 4-H kids played a 4-H joke and folded a $1 bill in half, sticking cow poo in the middle, and dropped it on the floor. It didn't quite fool us.

I went to the wool knook, and.....

BOUGHT YARN. I was wrong, mom was right, they do have nice yarn there- a very small selection, but the prices weren't bad. The red mohair was only $3/skein!

We did some other stuff (looking at vendors' stuff, going to the Grange building- Mom and I are going to enter stuff in their craft competition next year), and then it was time for the parade, so we gathered near the state buildings to watch.

Randomly, John Kerry was there. He led the parade.

Some floats in the parade threw Mardi Gras beads, and among the 4 of us, we did pretty well!

After that, more vendors, and we stopped for a drink. Clint made this Souveneir Cup Day and got a cherry soda.

For dinner, Mom and I had lobster rolls from the ME building, Clint had salmon on a stick from ME, we shared a blueberry crisp from ME, and dad had a chili dog from...somewhere, and a beer from VT. We also got Kettle Korn from NH, but that was mostly for the drive home and to enjoy this week.

We also carried on our tradition of maple sugar candy taste-testing, and bought maple pumpkins and little bite of maple candy from MA, maple ladies from VT, and maple NH and man-in-the-mountains (and a leaf for Clint) from NH. We haven't tried those yet, but I look forward to it.

More vendors (um... and Clint and I caved bought a couple Super Chammies... I'll let you know how they work), and finally, we left around 9:30, passing a calliope on the way out (they are calliopes, right? I think I have the name right).

All in all, we ate good food, didn't buy anything really crazy (I also got free toothpaste at a Sensodyne booth!), and we ended up exhausted and with hurting feet. Very fun!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I ordered them last night around 10 or 11, and they still haven't shipped! grrr incredible impatience.

Sigh. I'd kinda hoped they'd come tomorrow. It'll probably turn out that I paid $15 for the 2-day shipping and get them on Wednesday.

In packages-not-arriving-related news, I continue to detest Fedex. The first time they shipped something to me, I got a phone call a day or two after the package should have arrived, from a guy saying he needed my correct address, because it was written down as "Wolf Rd", which doesn't exist in my town. Um. It took an in-depth conversation to convince him that, yes, Wolf Rd does exist, and there are 4 condo complexes on it, as well as houses, so you'd think they'd have heard of it! Well anyway, I ordered a package last week (which I thought I needed by Monday, but luckily I did not) that finally shipped Friday, sat for 3 days in a warehouse in Mississippi (or Michigan? One of those western Ms), and still has not arrived. 5-10 my butt, I ordered it 9 days ago. When I order things shipped by UPS or DHL (even UPS ground from CA or AZ) they come in 2-4 days. Fedex should be Feddragsalongslowly.

I made a different kind of smoothie last night (since I should have something about cooking): chocolate soy milk, nonfat fudge swirl ice cream/froyo (Clint's), one container of nonfat vanilla yogurt, and a banana. It was.... smooth. Tonight I'll be doing peach, peach "nectar", and coconut gelato. Or possibly apricot nectar. I think I'm not one for bananas in smoothies.

Edit: Monday, 9/15: The shoes have arrived!! I'll get to see them when I go home tonight!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Domestic Goddess Gets Dressed

or tries to, at least.

I need shoe opinions. Unfortunately, you have to go without dress pictures. But in appropriate-for-autumn ness, what do you think? The dresses I'd consider these for currently are a black/red/fuschia/white print bubble skirt dress (the effect is a dark-ish red/fuschia) or a royal blue with black mesh/lace overlay (for a dark, dark blue effect) with embroidered embellishments empire waist dress.

I worry the last pair, the d'orsay style (with lovely 2.5in heels, my perfect heel height) are too light for fall. However.... wedding shoes? 0.0

The dark blue dress- this is it in "teal", so the color's not as dark as mine is, but otherwise it's the same thing. This is appropriate as "cocktail attire", no?

Red dress.... and close-up of the pattern

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tunbridge Fair: now we wait.

Today D and I took our stuff over to the Tunbridge Fair! My final tally of entries:
adult pullover (a Louisa Harding pattern, made in 2004)
adult cardigan (another Louisa Harding pattern, made in 2005)
adult vest (Lelah top- done sleeveless)
knit item, other (clapotis)
socks (slippery socks)
jewelry (same silver and tiger's eye necklace I entered in the Cornish Fair)
pottery, thrown (large lamp I made in high school)

drop cookies (coconut macaroons)
bar cookies (jam squares)
cupcakes (chocolate cherry cupcakse)
quick bread (gingered banana bread)
other (cherry scones)

Fingers crossed!!!!

I didn't finish the baby sweater. I got home at 8:45, baked and baked and baked, ate dinner, baked, etc, finally sat down to knit around 11:30. I never sewn in the ends of the Lelah top, so I did that, then worked on the baby sweater. By 1:30 I had 8 rows left of the sleeves (done 2 at a time), the whole collar (9 rows of 58 st) and all the seams. I had to give up- it wasn't worth being exhausted today. I also had to bake the scones this morning.

We're going to the fair on Sunday. I want some ribbons!! I also hope it doesn't rain too hard. Big E is Saturday, and I know that'll be really rainy, because it always pours the day we go to the Big E. It's part of the tradition, or trying to be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I think it's going to be one of those weeks. I also think I've officially Begun To Freak Out about graduating- I'm glad it's now, very early, so I can deal with it before the time crunch comes.

I'm still enjoying my risotto as leftovers. The recipe said it would feed 4, but so far we've gotten 5 meals out of it, and I think what's left will give me two more lunches.

I'm getting ready for the Tunbridge Fair. I've had two late (til 2 or 3am) nights so far, and I'm fairly sure tonight will be a third. Everything has to be delivered tomorrow, and I think Denise and I will go over in the early afternoon to take our (and our boys') things.

Last night I finished my Slippery Socks.

I started the sleeves on a UFO Peapod Sweater I came across. Luckily, I started the newborn size. The sleeves are about 20% done, have to do the collar (pick up 58 stitches and knit 9 rows) and all the seams. I think this could easily be done tonight, and still let me get to bed at a decent hour, but....

I also have to bake. Banana bread (quick to prepare the batter, 70min to bake), jam squares (quick to mix together, 20min to bake, at the same temp as the banana bread, yay) and coconut macaroons (which I could even make in the morning, that's about 20 min from getting the ingredients to taking out of the oven). Finally, I have to stuff and frost the cupcakes I made last night (I burned half, sigh- not badly burned, just noticeably).

As you can see, it's a bunch of stuff to do- not even counting sewing in the ends on my Lelah top and baking scones tomorrow morning, so that they'll be fresh and as good as possible for the judging on Thursday.

We're going to the Tunbridge Fair on Sunday, because we have to pick up our things on Sunday to take home. On Saturday, we're going to the Big E YAY!! I love the Big E. This should have been an answer to the "what I love about fall" post. I adore the Big E. I've been going since before I could remember. My mom used to fake doctor's appointments for me in elementary school so we could run away to the Big E for the afternoon. It was awesome.

I am extremely specific at teh Big E, there are things that must be done. First, we go to the state buildings (starting at the end near RI), and go through them all. We buy Del's frozen lemonade and clam fritters in RI, this is 2nd breakfast (first breakfast having consisted of toast and eaten in the car). In VT, NH and MA, we buy bags and bags of maple sugar candy and taste-test later. In MA we buy raspberries, maple cream in tiny ice cream cones, and honey bears. In VT, we stop off so Dad can have a beer.

Then we go to the Grange building, tell everyone that works there the people active in our Grange that they might know, buy some jellies and pointless do-dads to give them money, and check out the things on exhibit.

After this, our schedule varies. We usually make our way to all the vendors and see what fun things are for sale, and at some point, we'll possibly have lunch at the Storrowton Tavern (an actual sit-down restaurant), we'll go to teh better living building and try to get samples of whatever "as seen on tv" things we can find. We'll go to the animal buildings and someone will have to drag me away from the incubator with all the chicks in it. We'll go to the sheep building (probably not buy any yarn in the Wool Knook, unfortunately, it's been kind of boring for the past few years), baa at the sheep and goats, and mosey over to the cow building and get a 4oz milkshake for $1. We'll end the day with those tiny little donuts that are made right in the window of the trailer, and on the way out, buy a big thing of kettle korn.

This year, Mom and I aren't volunteering in the Craft Adventure building. This is the first time we haven't in..... um.... probably longer than I can remember. They changed the volunteer shifts from 2hours to 4 hours, and 4 hours is just too long, even if you do get free parking and admission. So we'll have much more time for fairing.

In non-Fair news, I finally heard from my future boss. She wants me to work on a zebrafish project! Zebrafish! huh. I wonder if I have to kill them myself. I guess I could do that with fish, but taking them apart.... ew. My salary won't give me much more money than I get now, which is very disappointing, and I'm super glad that Clint got his new job.

I still have not heard from my spoilee for the Falling for Ewe Autumn Yarn Swap, which kind of annoys me. I have most of her first package assembled, and I want to mail it when I go home for my high school reunion on the 19th, so I can mail it from another state, but I don't want to finalize any of the stuff until I hear from her. She finally updated her blog, so she's around. My spoiler, on the other hand, seems very cool and I can't wait for my first package! (no rush, though, I'm excited in a patient way)

I skipped going to the gym on Sunday and yesterday I could hardly walk. :-/ I decided to also skip yesterday, so I must, must go today. I'm trying to fit into a dress for an October wedding (I'd also wanted to wear it to reunion, but I'm not sure if 11 days will be enough time to fit into it,
especially when I'll probably only get to the gym 5 more times), so gym is important.

Oh I want to make pumpkin bread soon. Does anyone have a good pumpkin bread recipe?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Falling For Ewe Swap Question of the week

The organizer of the "Falling for Ewe" Autumn yarn swap is starting a question of the week, to be answered on our blogs.

What is your favorite thing about fall?

Oh, nice question! Fall is my favorite season. I love all the seasons (summer the least, it's too hot, ugh), but I get more excited when I see the trees changing color and apple orchards opening for pick-your-own apples than I do for new leaves sprouting on trees, and the first snowfall. (Although I have to say, part of my love for fall assumes that winter is close behind, but you still have the expectation of winter coming- I like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day for the same reason)

So, why I love fall.
The weather gets pleasant again, and you don't have to worry you'll get heatstroke from walking into town (I really hate the heat, I kind of dread moving to MA, where it gets above 90 regularly).
I love fall cooking- apples, pumpkins, various squashes, and tomatoes (in early fall) are in season and plentiful. I love days with a little chill in the air that make you want to stand near the stove and oven.
I love the rich colors of fall, especially after the spring colors fade into dried-out and anemic-looking summer colors.
Halloween. I love Halloween. I'm going to be really mad this year if I'm sick on Halloween again and have to miss out on it. (I'm using the costume I planned for last year, because it was a really good idea)
Thanksgiving: it's a holiday revolving around food!! What's not to love? Plus pumpkin pie, yum. I go all out on TG pies.
Pumpkins. They're so nice and orange and round. I love buying pumpkins of all sizes and arranging them on my coffee table.
Apple Cider. With Mulling Spices. (let's not talk about the number of tins of mulling spices I keep on hand, or about the amount of apple cider I can go through in a week) (and why didn't I buy any cider at the farmer's market yesterday?!)
Finally, I love the smell of late fall, that slightly smokey-ness in the air at twilight.

(Things I hate about fall: yellow jackets come out full-force, the sun is low in the sky and makes it difficult to drive at certain times, and I don't really like many of the flowers in season during the fall- I think I can work on that, though. Finally, the farmer's market only goes through the end of October! I'm always sad to see that go)

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I haven't made risotto in a while. I think I first made it because Giada did, and I watched and saw that it's not difficult. I like risotto, because unlike other rice dishes, it actually has some flavor (ah, cheese, how I love you). I started making it and having fun with it. I made it with sausage and tomatoes (um, don't use maple sausage for this, it's strange with tomatoes), ham and fresh peas, and butternut squash. Yum. A friend has been trying to perfect risotto with her boy, and I hear her talk about it sometimes, and think, I should make risotto. I could make it with the contents of my pantry and freezer, so why not?

Yesterday in lab I was trying to think of what I could possibly have for dinner, and someone gave me a bag of fancy risotto rice (she said it was the "good stuff, not arborio, but better." I forgot to read the label and see what it really was) when she moved to Illinois, because why bother carrying rice halfway across the country? I also had freshly frozen corn in my freezer, so I decided on corn risotto. Then Clint's a saint and picked me up some bacon at the grocery store- I once had corn chowder with bacon in it, and it's a really great combination.

I had my doubts. You see, yesterday was nearly the suckiest day that ever sucked, and I was brain dead by the time I left. Luckily, my advisor came by and we went over the figures for my paper, which actually cheered me up a bit. I was sure I'd never have the strength for a time-consuming (although really quite easy) dish like risotto.

Yay, I was wrong.

I used Martha Stewart's squash and squash blossom risotto recipe from March 2002 (maybe 2001) as a template.

I cooked 1/4lb of bacon (cut into bite-sized pieces) in a pan, after trimming all the large chunks of fat off. I might suggest using more bacon than this, especially if you get Bacon of Awesomeness like Clint did, you'll want to snack on it while the risotto's cooking.

After it was cooked, I transfered the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and sauteed 3/4 of a large white onion in the bacon grease- which actually was very little bacon grease, from trimming the fat.

Season with salt and pepper, then once the onion's soft, add 1 and 1/2cup of risotto rice (i.e. arborio)- over medium heat. Stir constantly until it's kind of opaque (or 2 min), then add in 1/4cup of white wine(and add a 1/4 cup of wine to a wine glass for yourself- this'll take a while), stir constantly for 2 min, until it's absorbed, and then add in about 1/2 cup of a mixture of 2.5 cups each of water and chicken broth that you set to heat when you started the bacon (um, make sure you turn on the burner you set the pot of broth on, and not a different burner like I did, because then the broth isn't warm and you burn your wooden spatula you were using for the bacon).

Stir frequently until the liquid's absorbed, then add anohter 1/2 cup, stir, add more, etc etc, until you've added nearly all the liquid, or all- I added 4.25 cups of liquid, and you'll know it's done when the rice grains are of a uniform color, are soft but not mushy- al dente, I suppose. It takes about 20-30 min.

Then add in some corn (I think I did 2 ears' worth), the bacon that's been set aside, and some chopped fresh sage (2T should be good). Stir that together, then add a handful (i.e. 1/3cup) of grated/shredded cheese- I used my handy-dandy fondue blend of ermentaler and gruyere, which I always keep on hand).

I didn't add all the bacon, and sprinkled some pieces on top of each serving of risotto. Clint also pan-fried some cajun catfish, which made for a tasty dinner. I neglected to take a picture, which is too bad, because I'll take a picture when I heat up some of the leftovers (I think this'll be 4 more meals for me, at least), but I don't have any more bacon to garnish.

Try risotto, it's good. I like the recipes from Williams-Sonoma, but I bet Giada also has some good ones, and plenty of others would, too.

This morning we went to the farmer's market. Clint bought some elk, because that's what Clint does at the farmer's market, and I got baked goods for breakfast (spinach and cheese croissant, which is good, but the ham and cheese one is better- which is why it's been sold out for the past 2 months when I get to the market) and 2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes. I got the purple-ish green ones, which I believe I will use for this tomato bean salad. I'll also make some fig-balsamic reduction and have a tomato, basil, mozzerella salad.

Speaking of beans, I noticed the other day that I have like 6 cans of canneloni beans in my pantry. It's kind of odd, I like them, but only ever eat them on salads. So I'm going to try this recipe so I can clean out the pantry (but I have no zucchini, so I'll substitute in whatever veggies are in my freezer, perhaps peas, and I'll use the fondue blend instead of parm).

Brief knitting update: working diligently on my slippery socks for the Tunbridge Fair (although unfortunately, I also need to work diligently on my thesis) and I found a nearly-finished baby sweater that I started last summer, ran out of yarn, so never did the sleeves. The sleeves are all it needs! And I found more of that yarn! So I'm going to finish that for the Tunbridge Fair. Also considering entering my clapotis, but that'd be 6 knit items to enter, that might be excessive. For the baked goods department, I'm entering: jam squares, coconut macaroons (instead of duck sauce cookies), chocolate cherry cupcakes, possibly gingered banana bread (if my bananas go spotty by Tuesday)- and perhaps just a half loaf, and no pie. The two cookies are easy to make at least, and I could make the banana bread in my sleep. The cupcakes are the only thing to really put effort into. The cupcakes and the socks. This is all due Wednesday afternoon! Wish me luck (I may be working from home Tuesday so I can bake....)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Twilight Knitting and other nonsense


1. I was all excited this morning, because I handed the draft of my paper to my advisor and what a relief that was, but it went downhill from there. I've spent all of my day (well, 5 hours) working on some internal tagging nonsense, and I really can't stand DNA work, and my original plan was to plan/write a detailed outline of The Thesis. Sigh. This additional tagging saddens me, I'd hoped to never do another ligation at Dartmouth.

2. I had a severe shoe-alanche on Monday. I was cleaning, and part of cleaning is vacuuming (my parents gave me a new vacuum for my birthday, and this new vacuum actually picks things up off the floor! Imagine that. It's especially awesome with Pansy's fur, which the old vacuum could not touch), and I am not a gentle vacuumer. I whacked my large shoe rack a couple times, and it started to lean... so I pushed it back.... and it promptly collapsed. Sigh. Now, those of you who don't know me well might not know, but I'm somewhat of a shoe queen. I have somewhere around 85 pairs of shoes. This shoe rack probably holds 30-40 pairs of them. It's a sizeable shoe rack, as shown on the right there (but my shoes are much nicer than those pictured). It's only supposed to hold 20 pairs of shoes, but many of mine are sandals and therefore more squishable than other shoes.

So when this collapsed, it was a big deal. Poor Pansy couldn't get over giant shoe pile to go sit near the front door, as she is often wont to do.

Today I finally assessed the damage, and the vertical plastic poles snapped off at the base- there's a thing at the bottom of each vertical plastic pole that slips into grooves of the base and the top plastic pieces, and these things just snapped off two of the vertical poles. Sigh! Now I must invest in another one... but fiance hates Walmart, so I can't go there (where I got the original shoe rack), Kmart has a terrible selection of shoe racks (rather, they have several, but they're all $60+), and the one pictured is available at target, but of course, we have no target within an hour. Story of my life!

3. Twilight. heh. I read the Twilight books recently. I think I read all four in slightly over a week- I read the first one in about 18 hours. I find them incredibly engaging, but I admit they're not very well written. They're a bit like romance novels- totally trashy, but so so fun to read. (However, I would not say the Twilight books are trashy, merely fluffy- on par with Confessions of a Shopaholic, perhaps- I'm currently rereading that as my gym book, I always read fluffy books like that at the gym so that the time'll pass quicker). Well anyway, Twilight and knitting. I came across this Twilight parody (which is incredibly amusing, I'm so glad I'm not in the library reading this, because I'd get shushed from laughing) that I recommend reading for your amusement.... but it also has knitted items!! Er, item. Xlorp, the main character, is pictured here. I wonder if the pattern will be shared.....

Now I'll go try to hunt down my advisor and discuss options 1 and 2 for my internal HA-tagging strategery. (i.e. add restriction sites to the 3XHA tag, cut and ligate in, or use a single HA tag and insert with site directed mutagenesis? hmmmmm.... Option 1 is more normal, but option 2 would have a lesser chance of destabilized protein with a much smaller tag. >ponders<