Friday, January 23, 2009

Let there be snow

We gave up on our try-a-new-ski-town-every-year plan after only three years because last year we went to Steamboat Springs and it was all we ever wanted in a ski town and more.

So, off we go, to visit Ski Town USA, full of cortisone and heavy with new board and ski boots.

Say it with me now, let there be snow.

Photos and video updated regularly. Given we don't break something important.

Talk soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So I totally ordered a pasta maker

I guess pasta "maker" is not the right word, because it's not like it actually "makes" the pasta, but that's what the box said and calling it a pasta "roller" sounds kinda retarded, but either way, I have one now.

I still feel the tiniest bit guilty about buying such a proprietary (and fucking heavy - good lord!) kitchen device when I can barely find room for the ice cube trays in the cupboard when they're not in use, but after using it once, I know I'll go back into the cupboard for this big beast fairly regularly.

It also helps that I made a giant dough recipe the first time out of the box, so when I do decide I want to crank out some spaghetti or whatever, I can just thaw a dough ball, roll it out and press it through the machine in a few minutes instead of having to do the whole mix, wrap, rest, roll thing.

That's a little much.

Especially given that when I set out to make pasta what I'm usually thinking is I'm going to make something easy so I can focus on my cocktail.

Pasta for dinner is not usually an announcement that garners any sort of awe in this house. Sort of like saying let's go out for dinner when all you're doing is going to Del Taco. Which would never happen in this house, of course.

Anyway, about that machine, for those of you in the market for one of these machines or those interested in why the hell someone would spend $25 on a machine that makes something you can readily find at the grocery store for cheap. (For those of you staring at me in disbelief, please recall my history with overwrought projects.)

This machine, the Pinzon 5-9-Inch Pasta Maker, is quite the effective little gadget.

My first impression when I took it out of its box was something like HOLY HELL this thing is HEAVY. Which is a good thing, because for $25 I was sure I was going to get some rinky tin piece of crap that would mangle under my unskilled hands.

Um, no. This thing will out live us all, I'm pretty sure, and is definitely built to withstand at least a low-grade nuclear attack.

Clamp it down to your countertop and you're pretty much set to roll dough until every arm in your house has been exhausted.

Also enjoyable is its simplicity. There's just the four parts (base, rollers, handle, clamp) and the directions are mercifully short. Basically, you can identify the parts and their role in the whole pasta making apparatus, so it's just a matter of putting the right things in the right holes.

Which sounds sexy and inappropriate but is neither.

Either way, I got this thing out of the box, assembled and clamped satisfactorily to my countertop in under 5 minutes which is something of a record for me given my undying love and devotion to instruction manuals.

After rolling my one dough ball out to a proper width, I rolled it through the machine (I did a test roll first, which I discarded, according to the instructions in the ever important manual - don't forget!) and Tee DAH! had created a lovely sheet of pasta of consistent width with very minimal energy expended.

This took all of 20 seconds.

The only bummer here is that it is SO fast while also being SO enjoyable that you really will want to just go buck wild rolling pasta around in this thing to the point where the hungry wolves in your house will come stomping into the kitchen to find out what happened to dinner and how come you're wearing a full length gown made of (very thin) pasta dough.

It's that fun!


Once I was done admiring my nice thin sheets of future dinner, I rolled the dice on the actual cutting rollers for the fettuccine and produced, in one pass, a pile of fresh pasta the likes of which had never been seen before by my kitchen.

Do not underestimate the addictive power of the pasta maker. It is like heroine with a handle.

But then for the actual cooking of the pasta. I was afraid, people.

It was fresh and doughy and I was worried about putting my stringy delicate babies into a pot of big mean boiling water for fear of what it might do to their squooshy exteriors, but I was worried for nothing because it worked just like I hoped. Specifically, nothing got goopy or weird and the final product was edible and, frankly, kinda cute in a rustic way.

This is what pasta looks like in the wild. All rustic and natural.

And to celebrate this edibility, I treated the pasta to a date with Pioneer Woman's Pasta alla Vodka sauce. Truly a match made in heaven when paired with the, now ever-present, brussels sprout side dish brought to us weekly thanks to our farmshare and Dig's easy going recipe.

And to think, Bubba hated brussels sprouts until I made this.

Anyway, that's my piece about the whole do I really need a pasta maker/roller issue. As it turns out I do not NEED it so much as I enjoy it thoroughly and use it to produce superior tasting din-din for myself and Bubba.

Plus, just TRY turning a sheet of pasta into spaghetti without immediately making plans to do it again. It's impossible.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Craft: along - And this time I overacheive

Don't expect this to happen every month though. I can't take the pressure.

Dear Donk,

So, when the hoodie didn't come out exactly the way I imagined at first (stupid 1.5 yards of fleece instead of 2), I decided to make the cookies, too.

I found this jar in the garage. It looks nicer now that I washed out the spiders.

That way Bubba had at least one thing that was a perfect fit and then one thing with which he could amuse himself after eating an armload of cookies, since we know how he likes the lemon stuff and also how ridiculously long his arms are, so even if I *did* have enough fleece to make the sleeves longer, they still might not have been long enough.

He is such a gentle lover with the cookies.

Ever heard of a positive ape index, people? FYI - Bubba has one and it makes creating sleeved clothing for him a challenge. However, if you're ever hanging from a belay ledge waiting for your partner to make their way up the face so you can remove the harness from your lady parts, a positive ape index means you'll be freed that much sooner since he can make one move where you'd have to make two (or three).

About the recipe though, I'm glad to say that, despite the involvement of one food processor and the rolling of four dozen or so dough balls in sugar, this recipe is way easier and less of a PITA than that other one that he loves and he did seem to swoon almost as much when he tried these.

I swooned some, too. I mean just LOOK at that zest in there.
Now, I don't know if they're eat-11-dozen-in-a-sitting good, but frankly I don't think I should be striving for that. Even for someone as fit as Bubba, 11 dozen cookies has to do something *wrong* to a belly.

Thankfully, we're not in that territory yet. The jar's still half full (because he's been distracted by other food things, likely) and we *may* even take some on the road with us next week for our ski trip.

Yes, that's right - it's Steamboat Springs time again. So, I'm posting this now so that it'll be up before 1/31 (since that's the deadline, y'all - don't forget to post your photos to the pool!) and so that you know I won't be around to pick a winner or two projects for next month even though I'm very excited for our first winner of the year (squeeeeeee!).

I'll be back shortly after Groundhog Day to see what you've got in mind for February, though. And if it involves baking again, then so be it. I've purchased my body weight in King Arthur flour, so I'm ready.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Craft: along - Hoodie Help

Dear Donk,

Forgive the cheesy title, there, but that's what this is post is aimed to be - help for ~alongers doing the hoodie project.

See, I had it in my head all along that I was going to make the hoodie, and if it totally bombed, I would make the Lemon Drop Cookies and all would be right in the world of Bubba, since he's the recipient of my crafting this month and he'll take lemon cookies of pretty much any variety and under any circumstances.

I need a Plan B at all times, this is something else annoying about me, in case you're keeping track.

And while I'm optimistic about the final outcome (yet to come) of the hoodie, I feel like the issues I encountered could have been avoided with one piece of information: yardage.

And then some of the other pieces would have come together a little easier if there were a few extra tips, so I am going to add mine, here, to Cal Patch's pattern, there, and hope she doesn't mind.

I'll just add notes to the numbered steps from her pattern to make it easy to know which tips go with which number from the pattern, K?

Tips for the Men's Fleece Hoodie

Yardage: 2 yards minimum. I only bought 1.5 yards of fleece, which was a mistake. If you're making a Men's XL (or probably any men's size, really), I'd go for no less than 2 yards.

Also, stupid asshole Hancock Fabrics is having a huge sale over MLK weekend, and I got it for 50% off, so go get a full 2 yards and it'll be for the price of one and hopefully you won't have to endure the fabric shrew telling you how she so much more prefers to embroider Mickey Mouse on sweatshirts she buys at Target than sewing a sweatshirt herself on her $4,000 sewing machine.


2. (#2 from the pattern) When folding the fleece (twice, remember), please also line the fold edge of the twice folded fleece along with the top of the sleeve from which you're measuring so that when you go to sew your sleeve seams, they end up on the right side of the sleeve. Like, so you don't, say, have a seam running up the top side of your sleeve, for instance. Ahem.

5. When cutting out the pocket, make sure that the openings inside which your recipient will slide their hands are of adequate size. So, that you don't, for example, have to go patchwork quilting together a bunch of scraps because there's not enough fabric left from your measly 1.5 yards to cut a proper sized pocket.

8. When sewing the hood on, center the hood on the back neckline and pin from here out, criss-crossing the front edges at the center front of the neckline.

OK, I think that's all the help I can be right now, given that I still haven't solved the Mystery of the Too Short Sleeves yet, but I need Bubba to come home and try on the sweatshirt so that I can figure out just how much magic I'm going to have to perform to get the sleeves the right length.

Thankfully, I've been taking a freestyle Just Put That Anywhere approach with this sweatshirt, thanks to improvisation made necessary by too little yardage, so I feel like the end product might be kinda, I don't know, Different, But in a Cool Way.

Or something.

Or maybe we'll just push those sleeves up and eat cookies.

Cheers all,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hundred dollar soup [RECIPE]

Hey, speaking of shit I did way back in the day over the holiday break, I made some really amazing mushroom soup that, we realized, would have probably net us about $100 a bowl if we sold it on the open market. Or, wherever it is one might sell mushroom soup.

That's a real eye opener when you're slurping away on your soup, taking only momentary breaks to sip from the New Year's cocktails, to suddenly realize that those last two spoonfuls were probably worth more than the bowl from which you're eating.


Why so spendy, this soup? Because I made it from almost 8 oz of dried porcini and portabello mushrooms that Bubba picked during a supervised mushroom hunting expedition on a fishing trip last year.

My scale proved to be too small for the measuring of so many mushrooms.

So, basically, the mushrooms were free for us, thanks to Bubba's handpicking, and all we had to do was eat the soup, cross our fingers and sing "Don't die! Don't die, don't die, don't die!" because handpicked mushrooms are iffy things that sometimes result in horrors and I have a tendency to try to kill us with foraged produce.

The best part was going for a run on New Year's morning and realizing, halfway through my run mind you, that "Hey! I'm alive! We didn't die from dinner!", which is a realization I'm ashamed to say that I have on a regular basis.

Apparently my cooking can be a little death-defying.

Anyway, the super fancy spendiness of the mushrooms was confirmed for us the other day when we went to our favorite butcher for meats to smoke (coming soon) and saw potato chip sized bags of dried porcini mushrooms for $60!

Now, why that bag was $60 and we could get the same amount online for $43, I don't know, but we imagined that the mix of dried mushrooms that I reinflated (obviously the technical term) for our New Year's dinner was Supah Fancy, so was easily $100.

Also, that sounds a lot more fun that Fourty-Three dollar soup. I think you'll agree.

ANYWAY, wouldn't you like to try my not-so-death-defying "$100" soup? I thought so. But be sure you don't spend $100 to make it because that is silliness. Also, make sure that your mushrooms are from a safe and reliable source like ours were based on the fact that Bubba and these mushroom picker friends ate some the night they picked them and everyone lived and didn't even get the sprays. You know what I mean.

Also - before I forget - DO NOT FORGET TO SAVE THE MUSHROOM BROTH. I really can't stress this point enough. It is extremely delicious and can be used to flavor up dishes where you'd normally use chicken, beef or vegetable broth.

Personally, I poured most of it over a smoked pot roast (remember, coming soon) and oh my holy hell if it didn't result in the most amazing gravy ever.

Ok, I've said too much about the Coming Soon Smoked Meats post, but still DO NOT FORGET TO SAVE THE MUSHROOM BROTH.

I like to put mine in a little jar with an ID band, as such:

This way no one thinks it's something that went bad in the fridge and then throws it out.

But for the recipe then:
It at least LOOKS like a hundred bucks, right?
$100 Mushroom Soup
Adapted from Porcini Mushroom Soup, Kitchen Bible,
My changes in bold

  • 6-8 oz dried porcini and portabello mushrooms
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 3 T extra virgins + plenty more for plating
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, stalked
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 t chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 t chopped fresh lemon thyme
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 8 oz homecanned tomatoes
  • 2 cups cubed day old bread
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
To make
Combine the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, letting it stand for about half hour to inflate. Again, very technical. Feel free to watch this process. It's neato. When they're all reinflated, squeeze the squishy mushrooms over a sieve, over the bowl with the broth already in it, to get every last drop out possible. But don't get too squeezy, you don't want mushroom mush. Chop up the mushrooms and set aside.

You can stare at them if you want.

They're miraculous.

Isn't it fun to keep the leaves on the celery? I thought so. Because I'm that way.

Heat the oil in a big saucepan (I used a 2.5 quarter) over medium/low heat. Add the onions for a few minutes until they're fragrant, then celery until tender, then add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Mix this magic together and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

I kind of just wanted to eat it like this because it smelled ruuully good.

Add the stock, tomatoes and about a cup of the mushroom liquid. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and spoon into good sized bowls. Stir in a handful of bread cubes and top with a swirl of fruity olive oil. Serve it up hot and perhaps with a nice Waldorf inspired salad. And, of course, the cocktail of your choice. I don't think I have to tell you what I had.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yes. It IS nice.

Hi, nice oranges. I will pillage you now.

I know that the holidays are long gone, but I did some stuff during my time off that I want to tell you about, mostly so that I can show you pictures of my dog because she's adorable and I barely ever show pictures of the pets.

Also, I feel like I should show photographic proof that I appreciate AND take advantage of this glorious place in which I live because I'm getting reminded pretty regularly that "it must be nice" to live in a place where fresh produce just grows freely from the trees around my house at any old time of the year.

These reminders may have something to do with the fact that it's, like, 7 below zero across the better part of the Midwest and it's making people crabby and you don't soothe cold crabby people's nerves with pictures of sunny California and oranges, but whatever, this is my way.

I'll show you pictures and tell you a story about how I don't let any of it go to waste so everyone can just stop saying things like it must be nice to just go out in your flip-flops in January and pick an orange off your neighbor's tree because that is exactly what I did over the holidays. A lot. And it WAS nice, thanks for asking.

For the story, now. The one that will make you hate me either a lot more or maybe a little less or maybe it will just reinforce your current feelings about me which might also be nothing. I don't know - you have to tell me these things. But I won't change. I'll just know how you feel.


Once upon a time it was about three weeks ago and I had about 10 days off of work thanks to all these holidays and some saved up vacay time.

During these days I decided that I was going to indulge in all the things I like best by not trying to do them all at once. Instead, I was going to do only a few, or one, a day, so that I could really enjoy not having to rush through them because I have to go to work tomorrow and dinner's not going to cook itself and my Blackberry is going to explode if I don't check email.

So, like, one day I knit almost all day and a few days I cooked and baked and I went on a lot of nice long runs and went snowboarding and hung out with the dog and Bubba and every day I drank freshly squooze orange juice.

That's right. One of the things I love is freshly squooze orange juice. Especially when it comes from a friend's tree and when that tree is within walking distance to my house so that I can hike the dog over there and have her haul the oranges back in her dog pack.

For the record, this is not considered "dressing your dog". A practice that I do not condone.

I mean, hey, I like fresh juice, but I'm not carrying 10 lbs of oranges on MY back. What do I look like? The dog? Pffffft.

So, on a few occasions during my time off, I saddled the dog with her empty pack, walked over to my lovely friend's house (where I have an open invitation to pick fruit) and gently pillaged her orange and lemon trees.

And don't get all, are you sure that's good for the dog because she loves to have a job, this dog. And when I bring out the backpack and we get to walking or hiking, she becomes very focused and peaceful. At least, that's how I see it. Perhaps she is just cursing my name so severely that she doesn't have energy to lash out at every passing squirrel, but who knows. I choose to think she's Working by walking with the pack and that she likes working because it gives her a purpose beyond the slaying of every squirrel or field mouse. (Another story for another day. Ew.)

Jada's very serious about her role in the picking, too. She walks around the tree with me and lets me fill her pack up even before she tries to taunt my friend's kitties out from their hiding places with her woeful dog whining. Even though she loves kitties more than anything in the whole wide world, except maybe possums, and usually wants nothing more than to be left alone to chase them. Which we don't allow. Since we have a cat at home who should be allowed to live in a peaceful environment without the constant threat of chewing.

Mama, I'm full now and would like to go home to my squeeky gingerbread man.

Whatever. What I'm trying to say is that she's a very dedicated worker and no cats were harmed in the picking of this fruit.


And after the picking of fruit and the returning home to find that I had the whole day ahead of me, I got out the juicer that I was sure was going to be a waste of money back when I impulsively purchased it, and squooze myself some juice.

Every day until the oranges were gone. And then I got some more and made more juice. And then I counted my blessings that I live in NorCal where citrus is ripe on street trees in January and that I have a dog that doubles as a pack mule.

I got this milk bottle for 25 cents at Goodwill. Don't tell anyone I use it for juice.

So, just go ahead and say it must be nice because it is and at least I am not the one around here that just lets their fruit fall on the ground for runners to slip on when they're out for their long run on Saturday mornings.

I mean, or whatever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cashmere Cuff [PATTERN]

Cashmere Cuff by Finny
Yarn: 1/3 skein Lana Grossa Pashmina
Needles: 1 #5 10" Circular, Tapestry needle
Notions: 3 buttons

Clearly, I've been taking issue with the imperfection of scarves lately. Specifically, with their inability to properly snug my neck and fend off wind and cold.

Two things that immediately disappear the moment I go to model the inventions I've designed to ward them off.

Perhaps my inventing strength is too powerful! Perhaps just the sight of one of my neck warming type creations and the wind and cold pack up shop and run off, screaming, Oh no! That bitch has been knitting again! I won't be made a fool of! Peace out!

Or perhaps I live in Northern California where it can be 70 degrees one day right after being 30 degrees a few days before. Yes, that's probably it. Even though - boo! - I want to have super hero powers. Also, it's nice to think that the weather has the ability to reason.

Anyway, I knit a new thing to ward the evil chilliness off the necks of people who, like me, don't find satisfaction in a scarf that's needlessly long and dangly when all it really needs to be is warm and snug. And also stylish and soft with wooden buttons and a new (to me) stitch pattern. And most definitely NOT WOOL. Because, you know, me + wool = BLECH.

And so enters the Cashmere Cuff.

I have found a new use for the weeds in our yard: Photo props.

This cuff for the neck was created to serve multiple purposes, the most prominent of which being the soft cozy protecting of your neck parts, the least prominent of which being the addition of texture to one's otherwise dimensionless outfit.

Then there's the unique purpose that this one will serve as it ships off to a SF-dwelling friend as a birthday gift. Because you know it's all cold and foggy in The City and we need multipurpose items like this for city living.

And if you're this friend of mine, you also want accessorizing options. Which explains why there are three buttons instead of, say, one or zero. I thought three buttons were necessary to improve the accessorizing options. Like, for example, you could undo one or two of the buttons so that it would slouch down on one's neck for added, um, drama or somethinglikethat.

I'll let her figure out the WHY in the buttons, as she's very style-y and fashion-y and what not so will know better than I.

It became 70 degrees as soon as I walked outside.

Not necessary, you say? Pffft - just try not to unbutton one of those buttons for effect. Impossible. It's way too cute.

Anyway, you can decide which way you want to go with that. I won't pressure you anymore.

For now, here's the pattern. Also on Ravelry, in case you want to do something RAD like queue it. Just saying! Whatever.

This stitch is called the Broken 2x2 Rib, in case you are curious what, specifically, I'm ripping off here.

Finny's Cashmere Cuff
Yarn: 1/3 skein Lana Grossa Pashmina
Needles: 1 #5 10" Circular, Tapestry needle
Notions: 3 buttons

Cast on 32 stitches (or in a mulitple 4 stitches to fit the length of your neck.)

Row 1 (RS): *K2, p2; rep from* to end
Rows 2-6: Rep row 1
Rows 7-12: *P2, k2; rep from * to end
Rep rows 1-12 until piece wraps snugly (and comfortably) around your neck with about 1" overlap.

Knit buttonholes:
Starting with the next K2,p2 section (Row 1), follow the pattern for 2 rows
Row 3 (RS):*K2, p2, k1, yo, k1,p2, k2, p2, k1, yo, k1, p2, k2, k1, yo, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2
Row 4-6: follow the pattern
Row 7-12: *P2, k2; rep from * to end

Cast off. Weave in ends.

Attach buttons:
Place buttonhole end over other end to fit snugly around your neck when buttoned. Use your tapestry needle to poke through buttonhole and mark spot to sew the button on the other side. Using cuff yarn, sew on three buttons to fit through buttonholes when worn.

You're done!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Butternut Squash Ravioli - the dramatic mini series

Episode 1: The good years

When I put this recipe from Sunset on my vacation To Do list (I have one of these because I'm unflinchingly anal, as you know, so stop looking all surprised) I had very little idea what I was in for.

See, there was shotgun pasta-making (since Safeway is an asshole and doesn't carry fresh pasta sheets), manhandling of whole butternut squash and a myriad other random duties to be performed before we could feast on the seemingly simple dish of some ravioli in broth. And I won't yet get started on the full-scale disaster that became of the leftovers. 

Not yet.

First, let me convince you to try this recipe because it is oh so very delicious and fancy tasting to the point where you, too, may want to buy a pasta roller thingee so that you can make it again and again with the squash that's coming to you in the farmshare. Or whatever.

The good parts:
  • Peeling butternut squash with a standard vegetable peeler is sublime. No really. 
  • The texture of pureed butternut squash is much like that of whipped cream cheese. You'll want to eat it out of the food processor, BUT DON'T. You need it for the ravioli.
  • This recipe helped me get rid of some sage. The mystery herb that I have no idea what to do with.
  • There's a lot of Parmesan in the filling and it tastes like heaven. Even if Parmesan "smells like fuckin' puke dude, what's up with that?" Long story.
  • Fresh made pasta is a whole different pasta animal. A delicious one. Like if it were an animal, it'd be a pig. Because we know pigs are delicious. And also that I am a very bad Jew.
  • The broth really brings it home. Yes, it's just chicken broth and butter, but it tastes divine with the ravioli, so don't even think about skipping it.
And with all that in mind, I suggest you try making this ravioli. And since I didn't alter the recipe at all, I'll just point you here, so that you can download it in all of its coherent glory.

Now that you're sufficiently duped into making this, I will tell you the bad parts.
  • Rolling out pasta dough with a rolling pin is for suckers. The dough comes out thick and makes you want to buy a pasta roller, which you will do if you think about it too long like I did. My pasta roller should be here in a few days.
  • Crushing almonds scares the dog
  • Between the pots to boil the pasta and broth, cookie sheet to roast the squash, food processor to puree the squash and all the cutting boards and knives - I think I used most of my kitchen to make this meal. Which is why Bubba gave me a mean look when he went in to do dishes. This is not for the faint of heart dish-doers.
  • Freezing of leftovers is only recommended if you freeze the ravioli in a single layer after cooking but before freezing in a bag with its friends. More to come on this.
So, that's not TOO bad, right? I mean, there are technically more good parts than bad parts, so it all works out.

But to get to the foreboding part about full-scale disaster with leftovers...

So, I got this wild idea that, with the leftover ravioli, I'd just bag them (after boiling) and freeze them and eat them later with arugula from the garden just like a naive kitchen idiot. 

I kinda knew when I did this that it was going to be a bad idea. Yet still, I forged ahead.

And when I went to retrieve six ravioli from the 20 or so that were frozen into a solid pasta block in the bag, things began to take a bad squishy turn.

And at this moment, Bubba decided it would be a good time for a kiss. I did not agree.

See, pasta doesn't like to be frozen together in a big lump. At least, not if the individual pastas are going to called upon to perform individually at a future engagement. And, if one becomes frustrated with the unsuccessful extraction of the six individual frozen ravioli and, say, decides to just throw the whole block into a pot of boiling water to see if it will "loosen up", things take an even more disastrous turn.

It's weird how this smelled really good while looking like boiling sewage.  Food is silly.

One that creates a heaving, spitting, foaming mess from which you may only retrieve a few mangled ravioli that bear hardly a resemblance to their glorious never-frozen brethren.


The up side is that, when plated with a newly harvested arugula salad and topped with freshly grated Parmesan and some fruity olive oil, these ravioli still taste very good, despite their untoward appearance and the fact that you can see inside them to their very core. 

Episode 2: When disaster strikes

So, my advice to you is this, if you make this (and you should because it is YUM), please OH PRETTY PLEASE, freeze any remaining ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet BEFORE you put it into a zippie bag. Unless, of course, you like eating dismembered ravioli wads covered in Parmesan and olive oil.

In which case, proceed exactly as I did and enjoy a tasty, albeit ugly, meal. This approach is not advised for those attempting to impress a date. Just saying.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Knitter Winner (does that rhyme?)

I meant to have a photo of my latest knitting invention for this post, so that it wouldn't just be a post to say, "Hey! One person won something and the rest of you not so much!", but I forgot to take a photo last night before I passed out on the couch (due to tiredness, not gin).


Anyway, know in your heart of hearts that Finny is about to finish up a new pattern that will get posted next week, so if you're in the market for an easy and Supah Quick knit that lends itself well to giving as well as wearing by your own selfish self, stay tuned.

I will warn you though, it's another neck warm-y type thing, so if you're all maxed out in the neck cozy department, sorry.

For the winner though...

Ms. Knittah, you are the winnah! (Does that rhyme? I can't tell. I'm no good with these things.)

The super random name chooser dealie picked you out of the nearly 30 names to receive my box (sorry, I can't be mailing a basket, that's just silliness) of favorite knitting shit. Congrats!

SO NOW - you should send me your mailing address to finnyknits AT gmail DOT com along with your color choice for 2 skeins of this yarn and once it all gets shipped to me for boxing, I'll send it to you and then you can get to swearing at some new knitting stuff. 

Although, I'll warn you, even I can't swear at the sheep measuring tape. It's too fucking cute.

And for those of you who virtually high-fived me on my 500th post - yer rad. Thanks for hanging out with me here and not giving me shit about my swears. Wuv you!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: Frost...pfffft!

I am very mighty for a small leafy plant.

When I decided to go back in the water with the whole winter gardening thing and do an off-season version of Adopt a Crop, I thought I was signing myself up for a whole lot of Frost Duty.

Like, put the frames on the beds and be ready to rush out and cover the wee nude plants at night and uncover them in the morning so that they don't freeze to death and turn into a sad pile of goo every day for three months kind of Frost Duty.

And, to be honest, I'm not so good at this kind of duty (DOODY! DUTY! TOO MANY JOKES!) because I tend to be a really bad kind of forgetful, lazy and careless when it comes to mucking out to the garden in freezing and damp weather.

But the summer Adopt a Crop was so fun (and, hey, successful, I even ate some of my pickles the other day) and also I wanted arugula (thanks for voting for arugula) and more fava beans since I learned what the F to do with them, so I decided to face the dreaded Frost Duty in the hopes that I'd have some super resilient plants that could live under substandard care.

Well, here's to hoping, folks, because these poor plants have managed to live through two "hard" California frosts where I WHOOPSY! forgot to cover them and they still managed to live on with nary a blemish.

Blemishes are for girly-men.

Which is good because what I do not need with my Sunday morning hangover is a vegetable bed of goopy dead fava beans. And let it be known that the first thing I forget after an evening of "just one more G&T" with the girls is covering the beds before I pass out face down on my couch.

I mean, if I can't even get my own body under covers, what chance do fava beans living out in the muddy backwoods of our property have?

Mmm...none. Sorry.

For the record though, I have managed to notice the frost warning on the news AND then cover the plants AND then uncover the plants in the morning THREE whole times now, so I figure that puts me in the black when compared to the two times I left them shivering out there uncovered for all the frost to see.

I'm all about averages.

Anyway, the update so far is this - the chosen crop, Arugula/Rocket/Roquette is doing well and will get a little haircut this week as I prepare a salad to go with the homemade butternut squash ravioli I made and froze (I'll post on this soon) over the holidays. And this weekend I'll be seeding another few rows of it so that I can extend our harvest season.

Our other friends, the favas, are performing admirably given their recent treatment (I'm a mean mommy) and have set their third set of leaves. Bubba thinks they'll be ready to lose their frame soon, which means that there will be no "covering" of the plants after that because it would take too much planning and scheming and finding of old sheets by yours truly, The Laziest Woman Alive, so it's a damn good thing they've proven hardy already since they'll be in for more of the same.

I'm happy about this because then I don't have to worry about passively killing off a whole bed of seeds that had an amazing 100% germination rate. The guilt would be too much for me to bear.

100% - how do you like THEM averages.

And if you guys want to go waaaaaaaaaaay back with me to the summer Adopt a Crop (pickling cucumbers) for an update - the pickles, which have now been in their brine for six months, are quite good!

I know! It's amazing since they totally didn't taste that good after brining for only a few days! Yay for that!

Here they are hanging out with the other Football Lunch staples- the turkey and swiss melt and black pepper chips.

The 49ers won the day I ate this lunch. I do not think it was a coincidence.

I don't think I hid my surprise when I bit into this guy and yelled to Bubba, "Hey! It's not even gross! It even tastes just like a pickle might!"

And then he looked at me the way one might when one is exerting all one's effort not to roll one's eyes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I do not resolve + cinnamon rolls

While ridiculous and counter-intuitive, I've considered not working out until February because I don't want to look like a New Year's resolutioner.

I have this thing where I imagine people will see me out running and go, oh look at that girl out running in all her new gear (which they'll assume because my running clothes never wear out - magic lycra!) when she's just going to give up and go home and eat a faceload of cinnamon rolls.

Because that would be 50% untrue and I will not have it.

Really though, I spent some serious time thinking of whether to put on ratty clothes to run on New Year's Day so that I wouldn't look like I was wearing clothes freshly unwrapped from Christmas. I considered ditching my tried-and-true cool weather running outfit of the past two+ years for cut-off sweats and a USMC tshirt so that I wouldn't look like I was wearing my special-for-New- Year's-Resolutioning outfit that had just arrived complete from Athleta.

Then I thought that might make me look EVEN MORE like a New Year's resolutioner because I was wearing clothes so obviously inappropriate for an outdoor workout in drizzly 40 degree weather and why would I do that if I weren't a New Year's resolutioner??


And then I just stopped being a crazy person, went for my run in my usual attire, saw almost not a single person for 7 miles and then came home to race Bubba to the middle of the pan of homemade cinnamon rolls.

Because my life is not My Life without stupendous irony.

If you could have smelled my kitchen. ..SWOON.

And today I went back to the gym after a few weeks off (the gym lives at work and I don't come to work when I'm on vacation, thankyouverymuch) and had a similar experience.

I got all ugh it's going to be so busy in there because now everyone has resolved to lose weight or get in shape and all they're going to do is steal the 10 lb weights for all of January even though I've been here three days a week for a year and need the 10 lbers. Jerks! for no reason.

Because when I got there, there were only the same old faces and a few new ones who wouldn't go anywhere near the free weights anyway because there aren't any instructions on them or those little pictures that tell you want body part you're working out with this machine. And since my gym clothes are nowhere near as fancy as my running clothes, I didn't get the did you just get that for Christmas looks from other gym-goers because who gets faded drawstring capris and Old Navy tank tops with holes on the hems for Christmas? No one, that's who.

So, the moral to this story is this - don't let me advise you on anything that requires sane reasoning because I've clearly veered off that path.

Also, you should make these cinnamon rolls if you have someone in your house who truly loves cinnamon rolls like my Bubba does because they are truly amazing.

We like canned frosting because we delightfully WT.

Do keep in mind, though, that this recipe makes 7 pans worth, so if you're not ready to bake a thousand rolls for New Year's breakfast, you can just parcel out the dough into 7 equal-ish sized portions and freeze for future use. Like, breakfast on January 3rd, 10th, 17th and so on.

This is only four portions because I don't know how to do fractions. And as I predicted, it doesn't matter.

I didn't realize this was a 7 pan recipe until I got to the 8 cups of flour part and was like, WTF? That's almost all of my flour! Why would it possibly need so much flour?

Oh. It is a holiday recipe intended to be baked and shared, one pan each, with neighbors. Isn't that nice. I guess I will just go about freezing some of this for later. And also I will go back to TJ's and get some more flour. And then I will stand back in amazement that someone is kind and generous enough with her time and flour to bake such things for her neighbors. Because as much as I bake and deliver goods to my neighbors, I've never done anything as amazing as these cinnamon rolls. That's heroic.

Oh, something else to note when making these is that you should make the dough and leave it to rise in a bigger pan than I did. Perhaps a 4+ quart sauce pan. Because this recipe in a 2.5 qt sauce pan does this on your stovetop:

This was right after Bubba said, "Babe - you're dough has gone over the wall." and I ignored him because I thought he was just being silly.

And then it does this in your fridge:

This was waiting for me after my run. I laughed for a long time before I cleaned it up. Yeast is funny.

Good news is that the dough's not super sticky, so it punches down right back in the pan like it never happened. Which is good because then you can enjoy your cinnamon rolls without having to explain why the fridge door is stuck closed. That'd be awkward.

This was from our second pan of rolls. They were better than the first, according to Bubba.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hoop Scarf

Hoop Scarf by Finny
Yarn: 1.5 skeins Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed
1.5 skeins Supreme Possum Merino
Needles: 1 #6 10" circular, tapestry needle
Ravelry pattern
Print this thing

So, I've had this pattern living in my brain for a while.

I don't really know what got me thinking about it, but it's been annoying me for some time and it finally had to be crafted.

Perhaps I missed knitting scarves. Perhaps I was continually annoyed with having to figure out what to do with the ends of my scarves because the frilly-williness of them, while cute, wasn't all that warm or efficient when dangling needlessly out of my coat collar. Maybe my anal retentiveness is really starting to develop nicely.

WHATEVER. My brain churned.

What if I had a scarf like a rubber band. I mean, I like that when I ponytail my hair, the band goes around a few times and then stops snug - without leaving any annoying dangliess behind.

You see what I mean about the "hoop" part, right?

So, yes, I could just wear one of my many cowls, but they don't do the super cozy wrapping thing that I need when it's Supah Cold out unless I go find my Turtle Fur thing that's always one step ahead of me and likes to hide in places like the ski bag in the basement when I need it most. Jerk.

What I needed was a cowl rubber band scarf. But that's not a thing. At least not as far as I knew or could find in the bowels of Ravelry. Even after all my to-the-bone searching.

Two colors are more fun than one is what I was thinking.
But imagine if there was a cable down the middle or some ribbing. FUN.

And so the Hoop Scarf came to be.

The concept of the Hoop Scarf is this: it works like a rubber band for your neck, but in a warm cozy snug way rather than a pinchy mean suicidal way.

Just hang it around your neck, twist it over to form a loop, pull the loop over your head, repeat, you're done. Much like you would a rubber band in your ponytail.

Adjust to make beautiful or warm or cozy as you see fit.

I didn't do too much in the way of beautifying, but you can.
If you want to wear yours without makeup, too, that'd make me feel better.

This #1 Hoop Scarf will be going to a friend of mine in Supah Cold Montana Land for guinea pigging so that I can find out how well it cozies the neck against the Supah Coldness.

I would demo it myself except that when I finished my other projects and was ready to start on this PATTERN THAT WAS EATING A HOLE IN MY BRAIN I didn't have enough stashed non-wool yarn to make it.


And surreptitiously, Dig and I were chatting and she mentioned the magic of knitting and how do you do it and then I pounced on the opportunity for a real field testing of my new pattern.

Thankfully Dig can wear wool in addition to being able to withstand the colds of Montana winters, so the deal was done.

This goes in the mail on Monday. To cold Montana. Where it better do a good job or else.

If you want to make one, too (and then not wear lipstick when you take the photo - thanks!), I posted the pattern (my first ever!) to Ravelry OR you can get it here.

If you make it and have opinions, give me a shout.

Finny's Hoop Scarf

Yarn: 1.5 skeins Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed
1.5 skeins Supreme Possum Merino
Needles: 1 #6 10" circular, tapestry needle

To make:
Cast on 41 stitches with a #6 10” circular needle and the first color yarn.

Join (without twisting stitches) by passing the last stitch over the first cast on stitch.

Knit in the round until the scarf is 1/4 as long as the final product. (I just checked by draping it around my neck and estimating.) Change to the second color yarn and knit in the round until it is 3/4 as long as the final product. Switch back to the first color yarn and knit until the scarf can be wrapped snugly around your neck twice.

Cast off.

Using a mattress stitch, stitch together the ends as a tube. This way it will be an open tube, rather than a seam where the two ends join.

To wear:
Hang around your neck like a giant necklace.
Twist once and pull that new loop over your head, pulling snug at the neck.
Twist once more and pull that new loop over your head.
Arrange the scarf’s layers in whatever way you see fit.

Be warm, y'all.