Saturday, December 29, 2012

Post Holiday Food Report

Butter cookies with tiny dancing men
I'm back from a whirlwind trip to visit family, and again I'm wishing that I had an extra stomach so I could have comfortably sampled every creation. Growing up in my family requires a fixation on food that those new to the clan, like my husband, think needs some medical attention. 

Thank you Dori Greenspan
Since we travel to get to my family, I never get to make the main meal and show off my cooking chops. This year, I signed up to make vegetables, and at first I was thinking about a kale salad with persimmons and toasted almonds. But, that's a boring thing that I'd make on a weeknight for the boy and I, and I think we'd be the only two who appreciated that dish. So, I decided to show off a little (I think most of my family still thinks all I can "cook" is Jello) and make something harder and more decadent. Nothing says Christmas like butter, bacon, and heavy whipping cream, so I changed my mind at the 11th hour and made a cauliflower gratin (recipe here). It was a hit!

Spoiled, spoiled dog
Mingus got to soak up the love since he was the centerpiece of the gathering. I'm pretty sure he thought everyone was at the house to see him, and he was a ham (and he ate lots of ham). He wrapped the little girls around his paw, and they insisted that he was in our family photo. While the idea was sweet, all you can see is him in the photo! There were also a couple of tiny woofers who snuck in.

Homemade deodorant: this may go horribly wrong
Onto another topic, have you ever been interested in making your own deodorant? Most sane people would say no, but I've been on a "use less chemicals" kick, so I decided to make the boy some deodorant made from coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, and beeswax (recipe here). Since he's on vacation, the boy will test it for a few days before subjecting any bus riders and coworkers to the homemade concoction. I have high hopes that it'll work! It took me less than 10 minutes, including clean up, and I could have made more in that time frame if I wasn't leery of it's potency. I'll be sure to report back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Table Full of Handknits and Other Miscellany

Next time, more signage
The trunk show at The Yarn Boutique is over, and I can start knitting and designing other things rather than past patterns! I had a blast meeting new people, seeing FOs that other people knit, and hangout out with my friends who stopped by. Lessons learned: make a sign so people know why I'm sitting outside with a table full of handknits, add more height to the display so everything isn't flat and the baby hats don't look like potholders, and bring a mirror so people can try things on since that is the point of a trunk show. Oh, and an iPad or other tablet would be nice - thankfully, I borrowed one from the LYS owner. 

My friend comparing skeins of yarn in the natural light.
 This was a chance to revisit patterns I put on my blog, like the Stripey Baby Beret...

My friend Rachel helped me out by knitting two versions of my Ultimate Slouch Hat. I especially love this version made with Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. I'll have to pick up some more of it so I can make one to wear!  Samples of my Tilden Park Scarf, Wildcat Canyon Scarf, and this red Ultimate Slouch hat still reside at the Yarn Boutique, so if you want to try one on before you knit it, stop by!

Cooler weather also means that bread baking is back on! This time, I made the Tartine Country Bread recipe, and it turned out full of holey bread goodness.  The dough hydration was higher than I'm used to and you don't need a kitchen stand mixer at all. However, the biggest drawback is that this recipe does take a long time and it isn't something you can decide to do at the last minute (you need to prep your starter), so I can't see myself making this all the time. The sad thing is that I still have some leftover bread here that I'm now using as dog treats since the boy and I can't manage to finish a loaf of bread in under a week.  Baking bread is always such a fun experiment, and I'd bake bread all the time if I had an outlet for the end product, but we're slow bread eaters. Next time, I need to cut the loaf in half and freeze it so Mingus doesn't get the lion's share of the bread.

Exciting happenings for me also included organizing my spices. (I'm not being sarcastic at all!) Instead of piling them all in my pantry, I'm going for a more flat layout that makes all of them reachable and visible. We'll see how this works. The good thing is that it made me throw out some of the bulk spices I've acquired over the years, and it always feels good to know exactly what lurks in the kitchen.

I had to put this gratuitous shot of my carnita scramble here. I didn't make it, Chow in Lafayette made it, but I've been thinking about the lardy goodness of carnitas all week. I'm starving again now!

And another picture with no transition at all: Thomas the cat. He came to visit me on Saturday, and we had a grand old time. I think he likes to visit me because he likes to tease Greaseball and Fifty, but I'll let that slide. However, when he rolls around like this, I do not pet him because I worry that he's spring loaded and just waiting for an opportunity to scratch me. My cats are mellow and do not do this, but Thomas is full of himself and probably not as docile as my crew.


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