Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cardamom Cookies

I recently had the pleasure to attend a potluck bridal shower. In lieu of gifts, the bride-to-be asked us to make a dish for the party and to bring copies of the recipes for all to share. Brilliant! The only problem was that I was assigned dessert and the boy is the resident cookie maker. Since I didn't think he'd make cookies for a bridal shower, I found a simple recipe for cardamom cookies in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I love her dessert recipes because they are not fussy and not too sweet.

I made the dough at 11 PM in the evening - it took me less than 10 minutes to make the dough and to clean up. I rolled the dough into two 1" logs, wrapped them in plastic, and stuck them in the freezer. The next day, I took the dough out of the freezer as I was drinking my morning coffee. After my second cup of rocket fuel, I slice the dough in 1/4" coins, and popped them in the oven. Easy!

If I were to make these for just the boy and I (I can hear him saying "Yeah, right. You never make desserts for us!"), I would omit the powdered sugar dusting. They taste decadent straight from the oven. However, since I was trying to trick everyone at the bridal shower into thinking that I was a fancy baker, I opted for the topping the cardamom cookies with fairy dust. It worked! People thought I was some kind of baking wunderkind and I did nothing to dispel that notion.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too Much Fun Cami

Although I love my Mexico Cami, after wearing it a few times its flaws were rather apparent. Cotton knits stretch as you wear them, and eventually bending forward always involved me having to put a hand over my chest to prevent free shows. It looked like I was bowing and doing the flag salute. Hence, the need to knit a second cami.

I knit this tank with even more leftover Curve of Pursuit yarn. (Amazingly, I am almost out of Elann Sonata. Woot!) It only took 3 balls, and as you can see, I had to add stripes since I did not have enough of one solid color. And these are not just any stripes, but Stripes by Committee since I pinged my other 3 travel companions often about their design.

I knit most of this cami while lazing around the Yucatan beaches and sitting in the back of cars and on ferries on the way to more Yucatan beaches. This also means that much of this was knit while I had a frosty margarita or Sol in my hand. Hence, there are some sloppy shortcuts I took that bit me in the butt later. For example, instead of carrying the unused yarn up the sides while I did the stripes, I just cut the yarn and tied a knot. I was cursing under my breath last night as I was weaving in over 30 yarn ends, but at least watching re-runs of The Giro made it less painful. Those uninviting yarn ends are what kept this as a UFO for over 2 months.

The Dirty Details
Pattern: Honeymoon Cami by Julia Trice
Needles: US size 6
Yarn: 2 balls Elann Sonata in Pesto, 1 ball Elann Sonata in Nougat
Gauge: 6 sts/in
Modifications: I cast on 156 stitches and then followed the instructions for waist shaping. I started the stripes 4" from the bottom of the tank.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mingus is a bad dog, by Vespa

For all you Mingus fans, I hate to burst your bubble, but Mingus is very, very bad dog. Sit back and let me tell you a little story...

I had this stick, see? It was a great stick - a stick so good that other dogs from around the neighborhood howled little ditties about Vespa and Her Great Stick. Mingus, who as we all know suffers from a wide assortment of mental issues stemming from his questionable past, decided that he was going to steal my stick.

He grabbed the other end of my stick, and tugged!

I growled at him! I begged him to leave the Stick alone, but he persisted!

He wouldn't let go! I warned him that he was going to break my magnificent Stick, but he did not care. He continued to tug.

Yes, folks, he broke the Stick. Then, he smirked in his "special" vacant, imbecile way and paraded around the backyard with the partial stick. I hung my head down in mourning.

See? This is why Mingus is a horrible dog! This is why I need to be an only dog again.

Anyone want a malamute? Leave me your info, and I'll email you when my folks are gone. Come quickly and I'll even throw in a couple of cats! Hurry!

Vespa (aka The Angel Dog)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Although summer fruits are out in all their splendor, I've been passing them by as I make my way to the mushroom aisle. I've long since abandoned figuring out if my 'shroom cravings have any type of reason behind them. All I know is that if I don't give in, I'll be having mushroom dreams and those close to me will have to hear about mushrooms over, and over, and over again.

Today, I indulged in some humble crimini mushrooms. To make them a lot less humble, I added obscene (yes, obscene!) amounts of butter, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan, lemon zest, and Madeira to the mix. Oh, and pasta. I needed something to sop up all the lovely mushroom juice.

In case you get struck with a nearly unstoppable mushroom craving, the cure involves first melting some butter and olive oil over high heat. Adding olive oil to your butter keeps your butter from separating and burning. Once the fats are sizzling, toss in the sliced mushrooms and stir the mixture.

The mushrooms will start off really dry and spongy, but they will start to release liquid and shrink as heat is applied. Now is the time to get your water boiling if you want to make a pasta dish.

As the liquid evaporates, toss in the chopped garlic and continue to stir. The mushrooms will start to caramelize at the edges. At this point, pour in some liquor and scrape bottom of the pan to dissolve all the delicious caramelized mushroom and garlic bits - today's liquor of choice was a Madeira. I've also used cognac and port - other sweet options. Once the liquor has evaporated, add salt, pepper, and herbs (thyme, parsley, or lovage can make mushrooms sing).

If you are feeling especially decadent, add some cream before you turn off the heat.

Slightly undercook the pasta, reserving at least a cup of pasta water. Add he drained pasta to the mushroom mix over medium heat and stir. The pasta will quickly soak up the mushroom juice. Taste a noodle to see if it is done. If it is still hard in the middle, add a few tablespoons of pasta water, stir the dish, and check the a noodle again to see if it's cooked al dente. Repeat as necessary. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

To finish the dish, I like to add chopped herbs, lemon zest, and grated Parmesan over the top.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Anthropologie Inspired Capelet

The wildtomato household has been a beehive of activity. Most importantly, my little brother, tofuninja, tied the knot! I was a bridesmaid in their wedding, and in honor of this momentous occasion, I knit myself a capelet to go with my dress.

Photo credits go to Milka at Lightbulb in the Sky Photography. Thanks, Milka! You're so very talented, and my brother's wedding is going to be forever remembered by through your creative interpretation.

Knitting this raglan, top down capelet has given me the confidence to make myself a full blown sweater. It was so easy! And the whole "try it on as you go" thing was a treat. And, the yarn! Oh, and I get gushy whenever I think about the yarn! Sublime makes super squishy goodness, and I'll buy more of their extra fine merino in a heartbeat.

The Dirty Details
Pattern: Anthropologie Inspired Capelet by Peony Knits
Yarn: 3.75 balls of Sublime Yarns Extra Fine Merino Wool DK, colorway Milk
Needles: Hiyahiya interchangeable circulars, US Size 7 (love, love, LOVE them!)

More dirty details on my Ravelery page.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fuzzy Faces

Vespa told me that she was voted the official spokesanimal for our household. She informed me that until I agree to only photograph their good sides, the animals are revolting and will act really bored with me. Eventually, they hope that someone out there will take pity on them and come rescue them from evil me.

"We're warning you now, lady. Back off! I have two fully clawed front paws. You have two eyes. Do the math."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ribbed Baby Jacket

Baby garments are a great way to experiment, because they are bite-sized projects that do not take months of knitting. (I did take months to finish this, but I put it down!) This was my first attempt at a garment with sleeves, and even though I doubt I'd knit an adult garment with sleeves like this, it was fun nonetheless to knit it in one piece, fold it in half, and voila! A sweater!

OK, in reality, it was not so "voila!" I had to learn how to seam on two finished edges together. Learning and applying the mattress stitch for the body of the jacket was a snap, and the result was satisfying because it truly is an invisible seam. I had more trouble with the sleeve seams. My first attempt, whip stitching it together, was embarrassingly ugly. Like, I couldn't give it away for free ugly. Thank goodness for Stitch 'N Bitch by Debbie Stoller! I used the fake grafting method, and once again this sweater was presentable.

Most of this sweater was knit in December 2008 when I had 28 hours of sitting in a car. Knitting was my salvation, because there is no way the "before knitting" version of myself could have ever sat still for that long. I also knit a good portion of this in the evening while at my in-laws' place. Yes, I did have to put up with some subtle comments about how the boy and I are not doing a good job of producing spawn, since itty bitty baby garments seem to draw baby longing out from hiding, but I'm good at ignoring that kind of talk.

I knit the jacket in mercerized cotton since this baby is Texan and I cannot imagine knitting a wool sweater for a Texan kidlet, especially if said kidlet is due to arrive in the summer.

The boy used Pinky, his sewing machine, to make the button hole. He also stitched the button in place.

To wrap up the gift, the boy sewed a burp cloth that we used as wrapping paper. We finished off the package with a bit of twine.

Overall, I'm happy with this jacket. Even with the right seam, the sleeves were a little bumpy due to the way this is constructed, and that is my main complaint.

The Dirty Details
Pattern: Ribbed Baby Jacket by Debbie Bliss
Size: 3-6 months
Yarn: Elann Sonata, colorway 7350 Nouget
Needles: Addi Turbo US size 7

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cat Drive By

What's that pudge hanging over the sink? Is this considered a cat muffin top?

Greaseball likes to let his sister know that he'll always protect her. Unless, of course, food is involved. Then, she is on her own.


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