November 2007


First and foremost I would like to share the glory that is the delicious food that my mom made (minus the pomegranate, obviously) over Thanksgiving:

my mother can and will outcook anyone

So if you read this thank you again :D As for everyone else I would just like to point out that the first picture is ox tail vegetable soup, THE dish that I would choose if I were told to only eat one thing for the rest of my life. Number two is the aforementioned pomegranate. The third picture should be recognizable to anyone familiar with Chinese food–to those of you who are, is there another English name for this other than “red bean soup”?–but if not it is basically a sweet snack/dessert soup with red beans (usually not kidney beans as in the picture but rather 紅豆) and sometimes balls of sticky rice. Next picture: the remnants of Thanksgiving DUCK DINNER! (Too delicious to take a picture before eating.) Finally, some good healthy apple pie :)

Now for some knitting news. First on the agenda was to take some pictures to replace this older group shot of Sheldon, Pasha, and Kate of knitty.com fame. Thanksgiving day was happily sunny so I think the new photos turned out well.

Kate / Pasha

(PS. please excuse overuse of Mosaic Maker… but it is truly awesome.)

KON Next is an overdue picture of a Kon amigurumi I crocheted for my brother’s birthday in July. The pattern is based on Ana Paula’s lion amigurumi from her “Tiny Ami” collection, only with a crocheted (not felt) muzzle, a knot for a bellybutton, and some little circles for hands and feet. The thing is that when I draw/make anything based on a pre-existing character I tend to err towards the cute. So here is my version:

kon amigurumi

Close enough, I think :)

Last bit of news! The moderne blanket pictured in the previous post has been frogged because I for reasons unknown thought I could get away with making smaller rectangles and still have a decently sized lap blanket. But no. So I tried again with no modifications but apparently forgot how I was picking up garter bumps before; this second attempt (I refused to take pictures) yielded incredibly loose color joins. So, for my third try I knitted a to-scale miniature version for practice. Allow me, then, to present the “tiny moderne for tiny Mozart”:

tiny moderne for tiny mozart

This blanket measures 6″ x 8″. And I figured out what the hell I was doing wrong (do not overcomplicate matters when picking up stitches) and happily proceeded to make the actual blanket.

Progress shot as of Saturday:

moderne in progress

All in all, a lovely and relaxing Thanksgiving :D

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Okay, okay, I changed my mind AGAIN. The Christmas-present-to-be mitered square blanket turned into the entrelac blanket which is now the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket (baby version). An excerpt of Mom’s is pictured below:

garter color scheme A

Still using LB Wool-Ease, this time size 9 needles for better ease and garter stitch only! No turning after 10 stitches! No seaming! More than two colors… and colors that don’t clash horribly! If I’m going to be fickle I should at least be constructive somehow. Four blocks on blanket one are already finished after two nights of studying for music history… cram session tonight, which means a lot more Well-Tempered Clavier and a lot more garter stitch.

Since winter is almost here, I had to snag the last of the decent berries at the grocery store to make something delicious. Though the raspberries I got were already overpriced and not the best, I was still craving and needing to make something with berries and chocolate ever since Peter brought it up. So as he (indirectly) requested, I found this short and seemingly simple recipe and came up with:

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First, my criticisms. I vaguely remember thinking that the cake recipe was funny (no butter or fats? I don’t know much about baking, but… ); by the time I was pouring the batter I was pretty damn skeptical–the recipe said that a lot of cake would come out of this, but what I ended up with was a 3/4″ thick sheet of something with the texture of a slightly stale cookie. So I made another one with marginally better results, but still disappointing. Was a line omitted from the ingredients list? I wonder.

Because I was so hung up by the cake thing I did not love the first or second bite of this. However… I really love berries. And though the mousse wasn’t perfect (texture somewhere between whipped cream and mousse) it held its shape and had good flavor even though I ended up with half the berry puree. Also, not straining the berry puree was nice, I like chunks of fruit in desserts. The last and best good thing about this cake is a lucky substitution. I used some raspberry preserves that Peter bought on a whim yesterday instead of the raspberry syrup (see dark red chunks between cake parts in bottom left picture) which thankfully made the cake infinitely softer and better–this saved the whole cake for me, I think.

Future improvements I think would include using a lot more fruit preserve (not really sure where I would get raspberry liqueur as the syrup recipe calls for, will look into other options though), using a better cake recipe, and actually doing the chocolate glaze on top.

There is also this amazing cherry blossom mousse layer cake (see Craftster forum post here)–I would like to try to get a thick layer of mousse in between the cake (brownie in this case, mmm) but I wonder if it’s all piled on at once like I did or if you need the first layer of mousse to set before you put more cake on. I didn’t have too, too much mousse this time around and plus the recipe I used had the cake and mousse put into a larger pan so that the mousse completely surrounds the cake instead of being a layer in between. But if I used the same sized pan would the cake sink? Is cake more dense than mousse? This seems like a dumb question but I am always amazed at pecan pies (not the same principle but damn baking is cool) and things that are constructed in an easier way than one would expect. Now I just need another occasion to make a big cake… :)

pork dinner

Balsamic vinegar always leads to some form of yum. This particular pork preparation comes from Biggest Book of 30 Minute Meals with modifications from Joyful Abode. The sauce also went really well with the asparagus, a last-minute addition. The rice-tomato bit was an attempt at the rice cakes from Chocolate & Zucchini, but I ran out of oil before I could get some proper cakes going. There is plenty of the rice mixture left, however, so I will give it another shot soon.

In other news, I did some browsing at Vertigo Books (if you live in/near CP and have not gone there, please go) and found some good cookbooks on the sale shelves.

The first one is Essential Cook’s Hints & Tips: A Ready Reference at Your Fingertips. I wanted a quick reference instead of my usual mad dashes into the bedroom to look things up on the internet while cooking, so here it is. It’s well laid out with plenty of helpful (albeit small) pictures and such–this was also the cheapest of the three I purchased. I hope it’ll be handy during my frantic cooking nights.

The second is The Improvisational Cook. This looks very, very interesting–it’s a book that gives you basic recipes and then explains the logic behind the ingredients/methods used and then guides you along with substitutions and creating new ideas inspired by the given recipes. Though I have not looked at this in detail, I really like this idea–will be useful for leftover type things and being more efficient with groceries over all.

This last one is my favorite: A Baker’s Tour :) I should say that this is chef Nick Malgieri’s collection of dessert recipes from around the world, but the pictures should say the rest. That and I really want to at least look through his other books now.

A few shots of some pages:

book1

book2

book3a

book3b

So exciting :) This is only after a quick browse, so I’m sure more detailed reading will inspire more happiness/drooling. Experiments forthcoming!

Bainbridge scarf

Pattern: Bainbridge scarf from pepperknit
Needles: size 7 bamboo straights (circular cables are all in use)
Yarn: Cascade 220 in a medium green color (color in the picture above is more accurate than below)

Bainbridge scarf worn, poorly photographed

I really like this scarf. It’s a really quick knit, and wearabilitywise it’s short but secure. Plus it looks more complicated than it is, when worn. This picture doesn’t really do the scarf justice but that’s okay as I will definitely be wearing this a lot once the weather gets cold again. If I were to make this again I would use some fancy cashmere or something (ehehe) as it is a good leftover yarn project; I would guess that I used up maybe a little more of 100 yards (1/2 skein) of the 220. Good stuff and a fun diversion from other huge projects!

a DIY lightbox

Yesterday and today were really quiet days… the calm before the storm that is November exams. So first in a line of several crafty news items is the aforementioned light box! I ended up using the one described by Strobist… only I didn’t even have leftover gift tissue paper, so I got some bathroom paper towels instead.

All one really needs to do then is to aim and shoot carefully… or do it messily and very easily fix your mistakes with Photoshop :) Adjusting levels and cropping are all that is necessary, which is pretty brilliant. In this particular example I could have even erased the darker bit in the top right corner, but I thought this was decent for minimal editing.

This was done with the overhead crappy florescent light on plus one lamp. I would like to do two lamps, but that would involve cleaning my desk off… one lamp seems to work, for now.

lightbox test 2

By the way, this is one of five skeins of Cascade 220 I got from eBay for $16 :D