Sunday, February 26, 2012

And More Cat Belly

I went to my friend's house to do a scarf photoshoot, and I ended up taking an obscene amount of pictures of her cat. Meet Mr. Bigfoot.

He's a happy boy who likes to sleep all day. Kind of sounds like some other cats I know...

Can you guess why he is named Mr. Bigfoot?

My extra time is happily spent reading Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. After reading 5 fantasy fiction novels in a row, I had to take a break from dragons and plagues and move on to parallel universes. If you haven't read anything by Murakami, I recommend starting with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cat Belly and One Hit Wonders

Greaseball is a delicate flower. He'll mreow at you like a little hell cat when it's at least 2 hours before breakfast or dinner, hiss at his sister if she dares sit on the second cat shelf when he's there, and take over the dogs' favorite sleeping spots. Yet, he likes to show his sensitive side, his belly, when he sleeps now. This is a new happening, and it's strangely sweet in a circus freak sort of way. He is definitely a unique cat.

Speaking of unique cats, I had the unfortunate experience of watching 3 back-to-back episodes of "My Cat From Hell" while hanging out in the "snow" over Presidents Day Weekend. Again, I am convinced that cable television is not something I should have in my own house because I would be spend my time watching "Hoarders" (or even worse, "Animal Hoarders"), "My Cat From Hell", and armchair cooking shows. True, I'd get a lot of knitting and crocheting accomplished, but I'd also be able to spout off really annoying tidbits from "My Cat From Hell", and since I have a faulty internal filter, these facts are sure to come out at the most awkward times. The cat show did guilt me into playing more feather toy games with my cats, specifically because the one toy my cats love, the wire and cardboard Cat Dancer, was described by the Cat Whisperer as sad and pathetic. I felt like a bad cat guardian.

Recently, I broke one of my golden rules to buy this grapefruit spoon. I usually eschew one hit wonder kitchen tools, although I may own a cherry pitter, because space is a premium here. And you know what? I crazy-puffy-heart love this thing! It makes the whole grapefruit eating experience, and segmenting fruit in general, a joyous experience. Why was I holding back before? The spoon is less than $4 even at swanky places like Sur La Table (a store whose name I won't say aloud anymore after a friend told me I had the most atrocious French accent ever). Now, I'm eyeing a spaetzle maker even though I've never made spaetzle.

True story: while at the cash register at Sur La Table, the cashier asked me if I wanted to put the spoon on someone's wedding registry. Huh? I was baffled because, first of all, it's $4. I may be cheap, but buying someone a $4 wedding gift is not even something I could do without great shame. Also, is it so weird to buy a grapefruit spoon for myself? Apparently, so. I awkwardly explained that I am just a grapefruit lover who is in need of a special spoon.

Check out Rani's Wildcat Canyon Scarf! It turned out so lovely!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Food Happenings

There is a meat mobile hanging over our sink now! After posting about my homemade pancetta, my aunt told me that she remembers Grandma hanging slabs of Chinese bacon (lop yuk) above the kitchen sink. I had never heard of Chinese bacon, although in retrospect I must have eaten it since it is a popular ingredient in joong. My aunt has been experimenting with different recipes, and she was kind enough to send me the recipe she used for her latest batch of bacon. Now, we have our very own pork belly meat mobile hanging above our kitchen sink. Unlike the pancetta, no curing salts is used. Instead, the marinade is salt, brown sugar, Chinese whiskey, dark soy sauce, and light soy sauce. Once the meat is dry, I'll store it in the refrigerator. The soy sauce makes this bacon black, which is a little unsettling.

For Chinese New Year, I had some friends over and we all assembled joong and potstickers. What is joong? It's a mixture of sweet rice, mung beans, ginkgo nuts, Chinese bacon, Chinese sausage, salted egg yolks (which I am totally making next), and more all wrapped up in bamboo leaves and boiled for hours. While getting ready for the folding fest, the boy researched how to fold the joong since he's usually better at that stuff than I am (the photo above is his work). Our first folding attempt just looked wrong to me because it was a rectangular packet. When I did my own research afterwards, the reason it looked "wrong" was because each region has its own way of folding joong. My family folds joong into the pyramid shape, shown above. 

To eat joong, you unwrap the bamboo leaves and dig in. Our second batch of joong we filled with untraditional fillings, like sweet brown rice and black rice. It wasn't as sticky as when you make it with white rice, but it still held its shape well when unwrapped.

We've also been making more beer and more beer muffins. In the carboys, we have a chestnut brown ale and coffee and coconut stout. Our fake Guinness turned out good, despite forgetting to add barley in the mash. The boy is using an old milk crate as a brewing stand, and it is a really good idea! I hardily have to do anything now. We have two gallon carboys going at the same time now - the second carboy is simply a gallon jug that came with apple juice. The boy brews 2 batches at a time now. I thought it would be great challenge to limit our beer consumption to what we brew. The boy thought that was a horrible idea.

The spent grain and applesauce muffins are still a treat. The boy made the last batch, and they turned out much better than mine since he actually put all the sugar into the batter. I always insist on cutting the sugar by half, but that does make the muffins less moist.

The boy also made a batch of carrot pickles. When he asked me how I made the last batch of Mexican carrot pickles, I couldn't remember, but fortunately I posted my recipe on my blog. I'd forget most of the stuff I do if I didn't record it somewhere!

This is not quite a food topic, but it is made of edible ingredients: the oil cleansing method. It sounds absolutely crazy, but I've been washing my face with a combination of castor, olive, and avocado oils. Other blogs have much to say on this subject, and I can tell you that after using this cleansing method for a week, my face feels great! I was braced for breakouts and oily skin, but I actually had to use less castor oil and add more avocado and olive oil because the first few days my face was too dry. Also, this is the best makeup remover I've used, and all this for a mere fraction of the price of the fancy face products I used to buy.

There are so many recipes out there for DIY natural body care products. I'd love to hear of recipes that you've used with success!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Preserved Meyer Lemons

I have yet to have a Meyer lemon abundance since my pitiful little tree seems to be nothing more than an appetizer for slugs. Luckily, I have a friend whose tree is overloaded with Meyer lemons. She was kind and gave me a bucket of lemons when I told her my sad, lemonless, slug filled tale.

Preserved Meyer lemons are one of those ingredients that can make you seem like a master chef. Season some chicken thighs with cinnamon, cumin, and salt, then stick it all in a cast iron pot (or a tagine if you are lucky enough to own one) with dried fruit, olive oil, and preserved lemon rind. 25 minutes later, dinner's done!

Making the preserved lemons is easy. I start off by scrubbing the lemons, cutting off the stem end, and then quartering the lemons lengthwise. When you quarter the lemons, don't cut them all the way down. Leave about a 1/2 inch at the bottom so the lemons stay partially intact. Sprinkle a bit of salt into the cut lemons, then layer them in a clean jar with a cinnamon stick and a couple tablespoons of salt.

Once the jar is full, close the lid and let it sit for a few hours and liquid will start to fill the jar. I top off the jar with lemon juice and more salt before sticking the jar into the refrigerator.

In about a week, you'll have a secret weapon you can add to stews, soups, paellas, and risottos.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sneak Peek: Wildcat Canyon Scarf

I'm currently on the prowl for  4  test knitters (all full, thanks!) for my latest infinity scarf design. Interested? Read below, and send an email to wildtomatoknits (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested in knitting it. Thanks! I figured I'd check here first before resorting to the pattern testing groups on Ravelry.

Craft: knitting
Approx. Hours to Complete: 10-12 (?)
Deadline: 2//27/12
Tools needed: 47" circular needles in US #7, or size needed to achieve gauge. The sharper the needles, the better!
Material Needed: 400 yards of worsted weight yarn
Finished Measurements: Scarf has a 50" circumference and is 7.5" wide
Pattern Difficulty: Intermediate
Formats Available: pdf
Testing Needs: In addition to error checking, I'd like feedback on pattern clarity. Also, I'd like a pretty picture of the finished object and a link on your Ravelry project page once this project is live.
Compensation: I'll send you a copy of my Tilden Park Scarf pattern as well as a finished copy of the Wildcat Canyon Scarf.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

V is for Vespa

That's good enough for me.
We walk past this house often, but usually in the dark. I've been wanting to snap this picture for ages.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baby Heart Pattern

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

My sock yarn scrap stash is multiplying! Two balls of leftover skeins have somehow learned the birds and the bees, and now I'm left with a bunch of odds and ends that need a new purpose. Since Valentine's Day is approaching, the red sock yarn called out to me, and after a few tries I ended up with these sweet baby hearts. My hearts are around the size of a nickel, and each one took roughly 5 minutes to crochet. Instant gratification at its finest!

I like to make these hearts into tags that can be tied to anything (and anyone).

• 2 feet of fingering weight yarn

• Size B/2.25 mm crochet hook
• Tapestry needle

ch chain

dc double crochet stitch
hdc half double crochet stitch 
sl st slip stitch

  1. Ch 4. Sl st into first chain to form a ring.
  2. Ch 3. Into the ring, dc 4 times, hdc 3 times, dc 1 time. This forms half of your heart.
  3. Still crocheting into the ring, hdc 3 times, dc 4 times.
  4. Ch 3. Sl st into the first chain from step 1.
  5. Weave in ends.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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