Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Pimp Paw is Strong!

The Tilden Park Scarf is an easy ruffled and ruched infinity scarf that adds a feminine touch to any outfit.


 Big G, the notorious C.A.T., is the most wanted hoodlum in our neighborhood. Among his rumored activities are pushing catnip, stealing food from kitties, and threatening the other toms. You see, there is only room for one player in this 'hood, and his pimp paw is strong!

Remember, folks, Halloween is right around the corner, and your cat does not want to be left out. Check out my other free patterns for dressing up your cat or your kid.

  • 40 yards of worsted weight purple yarn for the hat. I used Cascade 220 in colorway 7807
  • 10 yards of worsted weight yellow yarn for the gold chains
  • Size J crochet hook for the hat
  • Size K crochet hook for the gold chains
  • 12 inches of  5/8-inch ribbon in an animal print
  • A couple of feathers. Mine feathers were plucked from a catnip mouse.
  • glue
  • tapestry needle
4 sts in sc = 1 inch (I'm a tight crocheter, so check your gauge)
Finished hat has a 10.5-inch circumference around the sides (not the brim)

[ ]     repeat instructions between brackets
ch     chain
sc     single crochet
sl st  slit stitch
st(s) stitches

5/28/11 Edited sc increases so stitch counts are correct.

Using the magic ring method and the smaller crochet hook, ch 1. SC 5 into the loop. Pull the tail tightly to close the hole and sl st into the turning chain (the first ch 1).

Top and Side of Hat
Rnd 1: Ch 1, sc into base of sl st just made, sc 2 times into next 5 sc. Sl st into the turning chain. (12 sc total)
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 1 sc, sc 2 times into next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (18 sc total)

Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 2 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (24 sc total)
Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 3 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (30 sc total)
Rnd 5: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 4 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (36 sc total)
Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 5 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (42 sc total)
Rnd 7: Continue to sc into the next stitch (you are crocheting in a spiral) until the hat is 2 inches high.

Rnd 8: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 6 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (48 sc total)
Rnd 9: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 7 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (54 sc total)
Rnd 10: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 8 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (60 sc total)
Rnd 11: Ch 1, sc into the base of the sl st just made, [sc 1 time in next 9 sc, sc 2 times in next sc ] to end. Sl st into the turning chain. (66 sc total)

Cut yarn. Using a tapestry needles, thread yarn tail through the last stitch and weave in tail. To get my hat to have crisp edges, I soaked it and blocked it on top of an upside down measuring cup. When dry, glue a piece of ribbon and a couple of feathers to the hat. I used plain old Elmer's glue, but feel free to use some other type of adhesive or to stitch the ribbon into place.

Gold Chains
Using the larger crochet hook, make a slip knot. Ch 1 until you have a "gold chain" long enough to wrap around your cat's neck, then cut yarn and thread the yarn tail through the last stitch. My chains varied from 16 to 21 inches, and I made 4 necklaces. Tie the necklaces together at the base.

As always, if you make this, let me know! I continually troll my patterns on Ravelry looking for new pictures, so if you're too shy to contact me, post a picture of your pimpin' cat in Rav and I'll be sure to see it!


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chinese Chicken and Long Bean Stew

Last week, I had an amazing Cantonese clay pot dish with rock cod, mung bean noodles, Napa cabbage, and tofu skin at New Kong Yang in Fremont. If you want to try it out for yourself, it has the cumbersome name of "Fillet of Rock Cod with Dried Beancurd Stick Deluxe Claypot (and I think it's #25). Eating that dish reminded me that there are some very tasty one pot Cantonese dishes that have fallen off my cooking repertoire, and I planned on fixing that this weekend.

I've tried to keep a Chinese clay pot around, but I'm apparently not a gentle person because I break them all the time. You have to be careful not to heat shock them, and even when I am careful, they seem to fall apart after the tiniest bump. Therefore, I used my ever so traditional Chinese stew pot: the (French) Staub.

I'm going to 'fess up now and say that I this post is mainly for me. I don't want to forget how I made this dish! When it comes to Chinese cooking, I navigate by taste and smell. This has the unfortunate side effect of sometimes forgetting how I did something because I'm grabbing whatever I have on hand at the time, and currently my pantry is stuffed with Cantonese, Korean, and Sichuan items. And, yes, I used all of it here!

Admittedly, if you don't live in an area with a large and diverse Asian community, some of these ingredients are going to be hard to find, so feel free to use whatever you have on hand. I pictured two harder to find ingredients below: dried bean curd skin and mung been noodles. Both are excellent sources of protein, and they provide different textures - the tofu skins are chewy firm while and the mung bean noodles have a slight chew, but are mostly silky.

Chinese Chicken and Long Bean Stew
Serves 4

Each in a bowl of warm water, soak until soft (about 15 minutes):
3 dried tofu skin sticks
3 bundles of mung bean noodles
Drain the noodles and tofu skins. Slice the tofu skin sticks into 3/4" sections. Set aside.

Cut into 1/2" crosswise slices:
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Put the cut chicken into a mixing bowl and add:
3 T Shaoxing wine
2 T mushroom sauce (or oyster sauce)
3 T soy sauce for seafood (or 1 T regular dark soy)
1 T sesame oil
2 T minced ginger
 Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a 5-qt pot over medium flame. Once hot, add:
2 T peanut oil

Swirl the oil around to coat the bottom of the pot and immediately add:
3 T minced ginger
3 T chopped garlic
3 stalks of green onion, white part only and cut into 1/2" along the diagonal

Saute the ginger and garlic for a minute. Add the marinated chicken and continue to stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink, and add:
1 tsp brown bean paste (I used Korean doenjang)

Continue stirring over medium heat for a minute. Deglaze the pan with:
1 cup chicken stock

Toss the tofu skins and mung bean noodles into the pot. Cover with:
4 cups chicken stock (or enough to submerge the chicken, tofu skins, and noodles)

Turn heat to low. Add:
3 T light soy for seafood
2 T black vinegar

Cover the pot and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then add:
4 cups of long beans cut into 1" pieces

Cover the pot again and cook for 5 more minutes. Add:
1 T sesame oil

Enjoy! Seeing this recipe written out makes it look a lot more complicated and hectic than it really is. I spent probably about 10 minutes measuring out, chopping, and grouping ingredients, and the actual cooking time was about 15 minutes. There's a lot of downtime while things are soaking and marinating, and I usually use that downtime to clean up the kitchen as I go.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dry Cider

After 10 days, we decanted our hard cider experiment and enjoyed! It was quite dry, which is the way I like my cider, and there wasn't any funky aromas like the hard cider I recently drank at The Trappist. I'm going to pick up some spiced cider today to start another batch, and I'm sure this next one will take longer to ferment since the weather has cooled down considerably and I'm now wearing a down jacket around the house. (OK, so I don't live in WEATHER, as some of you in snowy areas pointed out, but I'm a wuss who hates to be cold.)

The fact that it's the day after I enjoyed the hooch and I'm still here to blog about it means that it didn't kill me. The boy was worried that our concoction would make us go blind, and I'm still scratching my head over why he would think blindness would be an issue. Headaches? Sure, I buy that (and, no, I did not get a headache). But blindness? Since my vision is far from perfect to begin with, if the hard cider made it worse, I can't tell.

Vespa, the dog who would be a smoker if she could, was giving Mingus nibbles. Mingus, attention whore that he is, loved it. He even rotated ever so slightly so she could reach new spots. My theory is that since all the animals live in a small space, they become weird.  Yeah, I'll blame it on the space.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A New Toy!

Over the weekend, the fermentation crock I ordered from Isidora Spielmann arrived! It's both beautiful and functional, very high compliments in geek-speak. I have two heads of green cabbage bubbling away in there, slowing converting to sauerkraut.

 I love the whimsical details adorning the fermenter's sides. Even the weight stone is a piece of art!

Sunday was a total food immersion day, starting with a trip to the farmers market (carrying 10 pounds of cabbage makes for a good workout), followed by gluttony at the Spice of Life Festival (Chairman Bao's truck is worth the wait! And Masse's Pastries is serving made-to-order churros and Mexican hot chocolate!), and ending with some kimchi and sauerkraut festivities.

For comparison, here is my Harsch crock. I still feel nothing but love for it, but it's huge and merely functional in appearance.

I realized today that I need some local fermentation buddies. Sure, there are online groups aplenty out there, and I have loads of friends who will share my finished goods, but sometimes a gal just needs to compare notes with people in person. Not to mention the exciting possibility of food and beverage swaps! I'm trying to convert the boy into a fermentation buddy by insisting he reads the same beer brewing books I am. I already assigned him the boring but necessary job of equipment sanitization.

There has to be some kind of club out there for people who like to ferment things... Imagine the cool parties we'll have with cheese, beer, sourdough bread, and kimchi! Plus, everyone will have excellent digestive health, which has to be an added bonus somehow. Hm. Must think on this.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Inspired by Brew Bakers in Huntington Beach, I decided to try my hand at making hooch. This formerly child friendly apple juice from Trader Joe's will hopefully transform to a non-child friendly dry hard cider through the power of fermentation.

Brew Bakers has a unique setup where you can pick your beer recipe and make it with a beer making guru guiding you through the steps. No shortcuts here: you start with grains to make your mash. It was fascinating watching the entire process, and since all the beer for sale here is made by them, it instills confidence that I, too, can make this stuff. I had an excellent sour cherry beer while I watched the process, and I got to talk to the person who made it. Since I was a fan, he cracked open and shared another sour beer he brewed which somehow was even better than the sour cherry beer. The boy is in full support of this new interest (surprise, surprise).

The whole setup hard cider was pretty cheap. I paid less than $3 for the rubber stopper and the airlock, both from Oak Barrel Winecraft. The half gallon jug was free with a purchase of cherry sour beer (so, so good - much better than the Flemish brown ales commercially available) from Brew Bakers. The apple juice may have been the most expensive item, and it was around $4.

The picture shows day 3 of fermentation. Initially, I covered the mouth of the jug with cheesecloth and a rubber band, which gave the whole project an illicit feel. Woot, we're making moonshine! Once the fermentation really got going and it was bubbling, I fixed the airlock and stopper into place. Now, more waiting.... I'll taste it periodically until it is quite dry.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kimchi Shortage!

Obviously, the kimchi shortage is not in our house, but South Korea is experiencing a shortage due to a wet cabbage growing season.

You can read more about it here.

Perhaps I should start exporting my kimchi?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Constantly Eating

Since the projects on my needles and hook are long term, there's nothing much to show. WIP photos aren't really interesting to me, so I assume that anyone who checks in won't find them interesting as well. However, I am constantly eating, so I do have some more food finds to share.

Today at the market, I bought these two jujubes. I didn't want to read up much on them before I tasted them, so I just dove right in. They remind me of apples, but they are sugary sweet with no tartness to offset their sweetness. Their texture is more snappy than apples. I've encountered dried jujubes in the medicinal soups my dad makes and in teas, but never fresh. They were quite good, but more of a dessert than a fruit.

I think my kimchi craze is waning, so I wanted to recombine all my leftovers into something new to use up the stray bits. Fried rice was yesterday's solution since I had egg whites leftover from making a miso caramel ice cream, spicy chicken and brown rice leftover from the previous day's dinner, and the always present cabbage kimchi in my fridge.

I have some koji that's just begging to be turned into miso or amazake. For those of you in the Bay Area, Berkeley Bowl West sells a pint of koji for around $5 - the price is low enough to experiment with abandon. This will probably be my next project unless something else shiny comes around.


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