Sunday, February 26, 2012

They Say Time Flies

It certainly does seem so. Apparently I’ve been having fun. Well, I have actually.

The past couple of weekends have seen a lot of cooking and baking and a little knitting. This weekend has seen the beginning of getting my spare room in order. So, what would you like to hear about first?

Oh, let’s start with cooking. I’ve been on a pasta and bread making binge for some reason, not that I need to add more starch to my diet. I’ve been having a lot of fun with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe. Have you heard of it? Basically, you make a dough, a very wet, sticky dough, that can keep in your fridge for up to two weeks. When you want fresh bread, you simply chop off a chunk, shape it quickly, allow it to rise, then bake it. We love it! I think I posted about it earlier but maybe not (just had a quick peek and I don’t think I did post about it). Here’s the link to the recipe I used. (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

In addition to making that bread, I’ve also had the bread machine going this week. Last week, and again this past week, I’ve been frequenting a used book store in the same strip mall where I work. I came across two bread machine cookbooks and bought them both. Hey, for $5.00 each, I think I’m allowed to splurge. I’ve made a couple of recipes so far and I think I could get used to having a bread machine. This week, I made a dark rye bread and raisin bread. The raisin bread isn’t quite up to my expectation but that’s my fault not the bread machine’s fault. I decided to make the dough and bake it in the oven; I should have put it all in one pan but I chose to put it in two and the loaves are on the small side. It does taste pretty good, though. Oh, and the rye bread is pretty good, too, especially for savoury sandwiches.

And then, there’s the pasta. Oh my, the pasta. I’ve been wanting to make ravioli for some time now, but couldn’t really find a recipe that screamed “MAKE ME”. Until a couple of weeks ago.

There’s a back story to all of this. A couple of months ago, a friend took me out for lunch and gave me a belated birthday gift. Part of that gift was an acorn squash. I’ve never had acorn squash before and really didn’t know what to do with it. We put it in a cool spot and forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago, I decided we’d better do something with it before it went bad. That’s when I went searching. And came across this website.

Oh my! Talk about inspiration! If you scroll through the recipes there, you’ll find one for a butternut squash filling. That’s the one I followed. There’s also a recipe for the pasta dough, using a food processor to make the dough. I’ll repeat… Oh my!

There’s also a recipe there for a mushroom filling. Well, it just so happened that we had mushrooms in the fridge and I had some dried chanterelles and morels. That recipe, and the recipe for the Creamy Vino sauce and, well… let me tell you, we ate like kings!

The recipe for the mushroom filling calls for ricotta cheese. In my online travels, serendipitously, I had come across a recipe for making your own ricotta cheese. Are you aware of how simple it is? I wasn’t.

Check it out here. Incredibly simple. Four ingredients: whole milk, cream, sugar and white wine vinegar. That’s it.

Ok, I’m making myself hungry all over again.

I have done a bit of knitting as well. Just for fun, I made a Celestine Sox cushy toy, or as we call it around here, a booby ball. It was a fun little project, but we did learn that even a stuffed, soft toy can break Tim Horton’s mugs. (It was my favourite coffee mug, too… darn it!)

I also made a pair of wrist warmers yesterday. We’re attending a birthday party tomorrow evening and I know that the birthday girl will appreciate them; she asked me to knit her a pair when we had them over for dinner a couple of weeks ago so I’m sure she’ll be happy with them.

They were a quick knit, using some yarn from my stash (which I started organizing yesterday). There was no ball band, but I do know that it’s a superwash 100% merino wool, dk weight. The pattern is based on one of my own designs, the Baby Cable Wrist Warmers; the original pattern is for a mitten-style wrist warmer, but seeing as the recipient doesn’t have the use of her left hand, she’ll find it easier to get these on and off, rather than warmers with a hole for the thumb.

Ok, this has turned into a long post. I’ll end it here. Besides, I still have a lot to do today! I’m making a Light Swiss Chard Frittata for lunch today. More on that next time!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Butterfly, Flutter By

Wow! It feels like a long time since I’ve written here. Last weekend was a rather busy one. We had company for dinner on Saturday and most of the day was spent cleaning and cooking. We had a wonderful evening with great company! It’s not something we do often, but I’m so glad we did. At the end of the evening, I even asked John who our next victims should be!

Sunday was, of course, Super Bowl Sunday. We watched the game at a friend’s house. Again, it was a fun time with good company. All in all, though, there wasn’t a lot of time for blogging or knitting.

This week, however, has been a little different. I haven’t done a lot of knitting, but I did work on the Flutter scarf. I’ve finished the first half of the scarf and have successfully picked up the stitches for the second half.

If you remember, the scarf is started with a provisional cast on and worked from the center to the ends. Using a smaller needle than the size required for the knitting (3.0 mm) made it easier to pick up the stitches from the cast on. Even so, there were a couple of stubborn stitches and a couple of dropped stitches, but very little swearing. In the end, though, I’m proud to say you really can’t tell where the provisional cast on was.

Now, it’s back to the four-row repeat that I can almost do in my sleep. For the first half, I was keeping track of repeats on my iPod, using the excellent app, “1,2,3, Knit!”. For the second half, at least for now, I’m having to keep track the old way… pen and paper.

My iPod has been sick. I don’t think I blogged about that, did I? Well, all of a sudden, the letter “r” on the little keyboard wouldn’t work. In the game, Bookworm, one complete column of letters (corresponding with the location of the “r”) was being stubborn. I took my iPod in to our local Apple seller (not an official Apple Store) and, after examining it, was told by the young man working there (and confirmed by the other two employees) that I should contact Apple directly.

I did. I was sent a box, complete with instructions on how to package my iPod for shipping and, last Monday, dropped it off at my local UPS store. All week, I’ve been tracking my iPod. The upshot? On Monday, I should be receiving a replacement iPod. I’m really happy with Apple’s customer service but I can hardly wait to get my iPod back!

I’ll have to reinstall all my apps, music and photos, but that shouldn’t be too difficult. It also gives me the opportunity to delete some of the apps I really didn’t like or use. I have to tell you, though, I’m surprised at just how much I’ve missed my little iPod. I now realize just how much I use it and depend on it. From getting up in the morning, using my iPod as my alarm clock, to counting the repeats in my knitting, to timing my eggs, to using the calculator and more, I use my iPod a lot!

Technology… love it or hate it, we certainly have come to depend on it, haven’t we?