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Monday, March 8, 2010

FO: Socks!

FO is knitter-speak for "Finished Object." That's a funny term, but it's the next logical step from something being a UFO (unfinished object).

Don't some internet/forum abbreviations make you giggle? UFO does that to me.

Anyway, I finished my first real knitting project. I've already made a couple of hats, and have a couple of scarves on needles. But this is my first thing that took a bunch of yarn and is more complex than a rectangle. SOCKS!

Car Guy occasionally complains of cold feet. Usually after shoveling the driveway or while watching TV in the evening. He doesn't like slippers, so I thought that a pair of wool socks would be a good slipper substitute. I did some pattern research on Ravelry, and decided that I'd make some tube socks for my first sock project. For a couple of reasons: I wouldn't have to find a specific pattern scaled for the bulky yarn I planned to use, and I wouldn't have to learn a heel technique on fuzzy yarn that makes stitches hard to see.

Unfortunately, my plan worked too well. Car Guy can't wear them for more than 15 minutes at a time because his feet get too hot in them.

I was almost done on Friday, and I wanted to have something lined up for my next project, so I found a pattern to make for me, and headed to a local yarn shop. *sigh* I wish I could have adopted all the great yarns there.

But since I was trying to keep to a budget, I got a cotton/acrylic blend to make myself a top. It's a beautiful purple color, and the yarn has some texture to it. It's a little bumpy. And it's knitting up like a textured polo shirt. Because I decided to knit the top in the round instead of in panels to be seamed together, I picked up a long circular needle at the LYS - an Addi Turbo! My stitches are just flying off that thing! It's a totally different experience than knitting on the aluminum needles that came in my Learn to Knit kit, or the bamboo and resin needles I've picked up in the meantime. I'm getting a little kinking of the cable as I knit, though. So I think that I'll try a brand with swivel connections the next time I buy a circular needle.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hai there!

Some random thoughts...
  • My life is so boring, I honestly haven't had anything interesting to say in 6 months.
  • As the USA network commercial says, there hasn't been anything this good on at 10 o'clock in ages.
  • When learning a new craft skill, the world is a wonderful place of new projects and patterns to try. At least until you have the realization that you'll need a lot of new (and expensive) tools to make some of those projects.
  • While looking for lip balm, I was going to try out the new Neosporin lip balm. After taking a look at the ingredients, I put it back on the shelf. For $4 a tube, there's no difference in active ingredients between it and the 97¢ store brand. And no antibiotic to help lips heal faster.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In the past week...

Oops! I guess it helps to actually pull my food pics off the camera, huh? So here's the latest week or so of dinners from here. There aren't 7 because we've been out with the in-laws, had scrambled eggs one night, and tuna melts last night. So nothing exciting on those evenings.

Salisbury Steak

Not fantastic, but the recipe was a place to start. I think Car Guy and I just aren't fans of Salisbury Steak. We'd rather have meatballs cooked in mushroom gravy.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with creamy risotto

This was the second time I've made this recipe from the set of cards, and it's pretty good. I'm not usually a fan of instant rice, but when it's cooked and served in a sauce, that helps hide the pasty, blah flavor and texture. The chicken part of this dish is fantastic! Boneless chicken breasts breaded in a combination of breadcrumbs and finely-grated Parmesan cheese.

Lemon-Lavender Butter Cookies

Not a dinner, but another new recipe I tried. My sister clued me in to a new (to me) cookbook, Fix, Freeze, Feast. The general concept is that of so-called power cooking - spend an hour or two prepping homemade packaged meals, and then daily dinner is a snap. The book's focus is on common food items from warehouse clubs, with most recipes generating 4 prepped entrees, each feeding 4-6 people. While I haven't tried any of the entrees yet (I'm working my way through what's in the freezer now to make some room), I did go ahead and make these cookies from the breakfast/dessert chapter.

Lavender is a hot herb right now, and these cookies are delightful. They're very girly, but Car Guy and his buddies seemed to like them when they were all over for car night last Friday. The recipe says that it makes 7 dozen, but I think I got about 8 1/2 dozen. Frozen while raw, they're then baked as needed. And I have to admit that the few I baked this morning for Car Guy's lunchbox came out a little better than those that I baked immediately after making the dough last week. I think they held their shape a little more when baked from frozen. That, or the butter I used was a little over-softened.

By the way, the pic is of the portioned dough balls before I froze them.

Pronto Pasta & Sausage Skillet

Another good recipe, but dangerous.

To save time, the pasta is cooked right in the sauce, with some water added. Easy-peasy! Until time to test the pasta. Car Guy doesn't like his pasta too al dente, so I do have to test it before I decide it's done. Usually that's not a problem. I grab a piece with a spoon or tongs and bite into it. Big problem with this particular batch.

It's made with penne, see. Penne is hollow. So it fills up with the cooking water. Water flows out easily when the pasta is taken from the pot. But this recipe calls for it to be cooked in the sauce. Sauce is more viscous than water, and doesn't flow out of the noodle as easily. See where this is going? I picked up a piece, raised it to my mouth, bit it, and the sauce squirted out and hit me on the nose. Hot, simmering tomato sauce. I now have a lovely burn on my nose, right between my nostrils. (I'll spare you the disturbing picture.)

Speedy Pork Fried Rice

Pretty good. It's basically the rice version of another recipe from the test kitchens of the company I represent. It would be good made with chicken, beef or seafood, if that's what one had on hand. But it needed a little something extra. Like a scrambled egg added to it during the last minute of cooking, like some Thai fried rice dishes. And I think I'll add a bunch of onions, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts next time I make it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smell memories

I've been thinking about the nature of olfactory memory lately. Not just remembering what things smell like, or being able to identify something through smell alone (although that's kinda fun) - the smells that take you back to another time and place, or that are forever associated with a specific person or place.

My great-grandmother (technically my step-GGM) lived in Vermont. We'd visit every couple of years, usually in the summer. But for some reason, fall leaves and maple sugar, which is a spring smell, always remind me of her house. So do Blue Willow dishes, although that's another story.

One of my grandmothers wore Estee Lauder Youth Dew when I was growing up. And I completely embarrassed myself in college by commenting to a classmate who wore Youth Dew one day, "You smell like my grandma!" It wasn't meant as an insult, but that's how it came out.

This morning, I unscrewed the top on a bottle of moisturizer and the smell took me back to my other grandmother's house. It was plain, classic Olay. I can still picture the square glass bottle of pink lotion (back when it was still called Oil of Olay) sitting on Gram's vanity, with the pink nearly blending in to the pink tile on the wall. The other fragrances that take me back to that bungalow, especially in combination, are Virginia Slims or Kool cigarettes, Emeraude perfume, and butterscotch chip cookies. And don't forget the sawdust smell wafting up the basement steps from Grandpa's wood shop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2 dinners- Aug. 10 and 11

Two dinners pictured tonight, because I didn't bother to get yesterday's off the camera until just now.

Today's dinner - Rush Hour Chicken Fajitas (incomplete). Car Guy and I are going to my parents' house for dinner, and I'm taking these. The accoutrements are in a bag - this is just the chicken and veggie mixture. The chicken was seasoned with a Chipotle Rub, so it's all smoky-tasting.

Yesterday: Turkey Tetrazzini. Not the most appetizing picture, but it tasted delicious and reheated well for lunch.

Both of these recipes are from a new set of recipe cards with easy weekday dinners. Each of them was done in 30 minutes or less. Contact me for more information about them.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dinner, Aug. 9, 2009


I almost forgot to take a picture!

Car Guy was looking in the freezer for orange juice this morning, and realized that we had a lot of sausages that needed to be consumed. So that's what we had for dinner tonight. Clockwise from top of plate: bread and butter pickle spear, steamed and buttered broccoli, grilled Johnsonville bratwurst with sauteed onions and oven-roasted potatoes with Penzey's bratwurst seasoning.

The potatoes are practically a staple around here. I cut potatoes into 1/2" to 1" pieces, depending on how late I'm running (smaller pieces cook faster), spritz them with some oil and sprinkle with some seasoning. Today, I decided to match the potatoes to the sausages with this. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400˚F oven for 25-45 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Dinner, Aug. 8

In an attempt to have things to post more regularly, I think I'm going to branch into what's commonly known as "food porn." What's that? In a nutshell, pictures of food. Funny things don't happen to me every day, but I sure as heck eat every day. (It takes many calories to maintain this figure.)

So my inaugural food porn post is my dinner from last night. Behold...

Just what is that? A small beef tenderloin steak (filet mignon), seasoned with bell pepper and herb rub and pan-fried (to medium-rare, 3 minutes per side) served with steamed broccoli and some Kraft macaroni and cheese with a little freshly ground black pepper on the top. Normally, I would make potatoes to go with steak, but I didn't start dinner early enough and I had the mac and cheese. I took the pic before I added a small amount of portabella mushroom and shallot steak sauce on top of the steak. Delish!

Filet is Car Guy's and my small indulgence each week. How can we afford it? I buy whole tenderloins at Costco, where they're about $7 a pound. The catch is that they're untrimmed. So I have to cut off the silverskin, which is a nasty tendon that is inedible and will make your steaks curl up into a fetal position once they're cooked. I then cut the main portion of the tenderloin into approximately 1/2" thick steaks. That doesn't sound very large, but that size is about a 4-ounce steak, which is slightly more than a serving of red meat. I use the chain meat, which are the bits and pieces that aren't nicely shaped or from the small side of the silverskin for fajitas or steak sandwiches. I can get about 2 months worth of steaks (at one steak dinner per week) from a single tenderloin.

And then the trick is to cook carefully, so you don't waste the meat. I've found that preheating a pan for about 5 minutes, and then cooking the seasoned steaks for 3 minutes per side is just right. When I feel like making a pan sauce, I deglaze the pan with some wine or chicken stock (depending on what's open) while the meat is resting, and sometimes melt a little cream cheese in the sauce to make it creamy. Fill out the meal with a starch - mashed potatoes are lovely with pan sauce poured over the top - and a vegetable, and all's right with the world.

You can get tips on butchering your own beef tenderloin, look for the "Tender is the Loin" episode of Good Eats.