a not so quiet long weekend

Not that that’s a bad thing. Saturday we ran some errands, one of them being a run to the Purple Purl. I wanted to pick up Ysolda’s new book that just came in and pick up some needles. Sean needed to pick some yarn for his mother’s holiday gift. I went through and selected some patterns that would work with the yarn he selected and he chose the one he thought his mother would like, a Anne Hanson pattern, because he liked the look and he said something along the lines of well you like her stuff and it always turns out nice. He also picked up some sock yarn for his next pair of socks when I finish his current ones on the needles (he now has to buy his own sock yarn as he has very good taste and always selects the top pickings from my stash that I want to use for me).On Sunday we had swapped desk spaces and we went to Ikea to pick me up a new desk as the table I was using was never really suited to be a desk and I was just making due. I assembled it while someone napped and started working on the spare bedroom. It is finally looking like a room instead of storage space! I will try to remember to post a picture once the room is a bit more organized.

Today I made crepes with strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup as well as some oatmeal cookies with dried cherries and dark chocolate nuggets. I don’t have any plans for the rest of today and I think I will spend it knitting and sorting through what needs to be done in the spare room.

I started work on a baby sweater for my friend Mandi who is expecting her first munchkin to appear in the end of December. They aren’t going to find out what sex they are having so I have to make sure whatever I make looks good for either a boy or girl. I’ve decided to try Tanis’s Sunnyside Baby Cardigan with the cables. So far it is working up lovely but I am not particularly fond of the way Tanis writes up her patterns. I find for the raglan increases she has way too many markers placed into it and then she tends to ignore some of the markers and make mention of others which can be quite confusing while increasing. Needless to say I have paired down on the number of markers I am using.

The hitchhiker scarf now officially lives with my Aunt Lynn who loves it (I got a very email from her describing what she liked about it and all the different ways she can wear it).

random catch-up

1. There has been a lot of good eats from Royal Irish Soda Bread with whiskey butter to risotto to cuban beans and rice.

2. I have been spending the last few Sundays at the Purple Purl. I may have bought some yarn and I definitely bought some blocking wires. I’ve also done quite a bit of knitting but don’t have a lot of pictures of said knitting.

3. Piper and I are enjoying the lovely weather this evening sitting on our balcony enjoying a delicious dinner of crackers, cheese and berries. There may be some beer included in that meal (but only for me).

4. Piper got a new toy. A Pak-o-bird which means she can now safely go on walks with me. Will post a picture as soon as I have Sean take a picture of me and Piper showing how it is used.

lemon meringue pie

Most of my knitting time recently has been on the second secret project (including have to rip out a rather large section). I’ve also been knitting a little on Sean’s sweater. I finished the back this morning and have cast on the two fronts which I will be knitting at the same time to make sure gauge and following instructions the same for both won’t be an issue. Neither frankly take great pictures.

However there has been quite a bit of baking this weekend and that always takes great pictures! Saturday I made the raisin cinnamon swirl bread I have been craving for quite a while now. It is as delicious as it looks!

We also made some pizza for dinner tonight which is always a welcome meal at our place. This was a joint effort where I made the dough and Sean took care of the toppings (no pictures sorry).

And for dessert we are having this:  It must be a good 12 years since I have made my last lemon meringue pie and it was much much simpler than I remember it being. I’m sure part of it is I have an excellent pastry mat and now I have very good tools such as a roller and pastry blender (oddly enough all come from Pampered Chef). The Kitchen-aid for making the meringue certainly doesn’t hurt either. Lemon meringue pie is a code word in my mom’s family. When asking what is for desert the response for nothing was lemon meringue pie, but then if there was lemon meringue pie the answer was the same so you never quite knew if one could be expected. Edited to add: I think the best difference now from 12 years ago; it will last a few days!

cookie monster!

Well I did end up making ciabatta this weekend. The holes weren’t quite as big as the last time I made it but I did notice the dough was not as wet this time either. I also used the traditional bigga instead of my sour dough starter. It is still light, airy and delicious!

It went lovely with harira, a Moroccan soup, that we had last night. It is a nice thick soup, almost stew like, and is full of flavour. It is supposed to be made with lamb but since we have so much beef we used a hunk of stewing beef from our freezer.

I ripped out what I had done on the Dashing fingerless mittens. The cuffs were far too long for what I would need and I most likely would never wear them. So I’m adjusting the pattern so that the cuffs are smaller and I am also adding a thumb gusset.

I also had a craving for cookies last night so I made us some chocolate chip cookies with milk and semi-sweet gourmet chocolate chunks (Sobey’s was featuring them once upon a time). Here is a picture of a not so elusive cookie monster eating one.

quick knits and chicken

The knitting has slowed a bit since we moved but it has not stopped. I am making good progress on the Leaving sweater’s front but I have a hole in my knitted garments that needs to be filled especially if the weather is going to be warming up a bit but not enough. I have decided to cast on a pair of fingerless mittens for those days where it is too warm for mittens but too cold to go without anything on the hands. It is the Dashing pattern and it is made with aran weight wool which means for a pretty quick knit. Perfect for a “I want to finish something quickly” mood.

Last night I decided to experiment with a new recipe from Cooks Illustrated for Peruvian Garlic-Lime Roast chicken. It turned out delicious. The skin was crispy and the meat including the chicken breasts were juicy and flavourful (the marinade is also rubbed onto under the skin of the chicken). The recipe recommends a vertical roaster (which I don’t have and have no intention of running out to buy) but the thing I am starting to like about Cooks Illustrated is they will usually give you a an alternative that you are likely to have in the kitchen. In this case it was a tall boy can of beer half empty.

The key to juicy meat and crispy skin is cooking it at two different temperatures (it’s what Cooks Illustrated told me and now that I’ve done it I believe it). The first bake is at 325F for almost an hour. You then take the chicken out of the oven and crank it up to 500F. Once the oven has finished pre-heating add a little water to your baking dish so the drippings don’t smoke and put it back in for about 20 minutes. Sean and I agree that this is going to become a popular favourite as it has a lot of flavour and a nice spicy kick! 

Today we are making some ciabatta as we are going to get back into making bread once a week (and by we I mean I will make it and Sean will eat a good portion of it). Hopefully I will remember to take a picture. I will leave you with picture of some lovely tulips Sean brought home his week.

Tree Day

Yesterday Sean and I went out to Oshawa with his parents to hunt down our tree’s. I of course forgot my camera. When we got back I went grocery shopping to pick up the ingredients for our Moroccan dinner, including the tagine to cook one of the dishes. We had carrot and cumin salad, spicy eggplant and tomato, roasted peppers with goat cheese, country bread and tagine chicken with preserved lemon, olives and thyme. Needless to say there are lots of delicious leftovers.

After we were stuffed like turkeys, I put the lights on the tree and added the decorations that Sean’s mom gave me (I think she heard about my tree last year with only the lights and a single decoration). Sean had asked his mom for his decorations and he used those to help decorate my tree (they are the majority of the decorations).

Banana Cranberry Oatmeal

Here is the recipe for what has become Sean and I’s favorite version of oatmeal. This recipe makes 2 servings. The spice measurements are not exact and feel free to add your own favorite spices or your own ratios.

Mix together in the pot before putting onto the heat:

1c oats

1tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, a pinch of chili pepper

1 ripe banana (has brown spots) mashed with a fork

2 handfuls of cranberries,~1/2c, (fresh or frozen) with the large ones cut in half

1 1/2 c water

1/2 milk

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture is boiling while stirring. Turn off heat leaving pot on element and cover with lid. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and a bit of milk.