Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More baked goods!

Tried's recipe for honey whole-wheat bread. It's easy and yummy, but cut the salt in half (or more) unless you like your baked goods REALLY salty.

In a desperate attempt to use up all the lousy strawberry jam, I tried this recipe for jam muffins. They turned out really well and I will definitely make them again.

Last month my husband bought a huge bag of shelled pistachios, which we aren't eating fast enough. Since I don't want the super-expensive nuts going to waste, I found a recipe for pistachio biscotti with olive oil. I was, well, dubious, and the fact that I set the oven too high and singed them didn't help... but they're really good. And different. And hard to stop eating.

And, finally, I made a terrific Italian apple cake a couple of weeks ago. It was super-easy and my kids were begging me for third helpings.

New recipe count: 29

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Flowering Tuesday

The previous owners of this house put in some wonderful flowers on three sides of the house. I didn't get a good shot of the irises and peonies in the back yard, but here's what the left front of the house is sporting:

And here's what the right side and east corner are showing off:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Two more pairs of mittens!

I nearly pulled an all-nighter to finish these! Went to bed long after midnight, up before 8:00, and knitting furiously until 9:57 when I tucked in the final end and ran upstairs to get dressed for Commencement.

Pattern: DROPS 110-39 (rav link), with a different thumb
Needles: size 3 wooden 16 inch circulars (a pair)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash

Pattern: NHM #12 (rav link), slightly rewritten to make them work with a larger gauge
Needles: size 3 wooden 16 inch circulars (a pair)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More new recipes (a dinner for a hot day)

It reached 90F in some areas near us on Tuesday, so I was feeling inspired to do minimal cooking and serve a lot of salads. I made steamed white race (always a must when my in-laws visit), steamed broccoli (which my kids like), and a big salad of romaine, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, toasted pepitas, and some shaved hard cheese that I found in the fridge. (It might have been an aged Gouda.) Dressed it with my go-to dressing of rice wine vinegar, olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and a trickle of agave nectar. All good so far.

The two new dishes were both hits with the family. First up was a vegan potato salad. The DH is considering going partially vegan for the summer, which has me in a bit of a panic because I've spent 13 years learning how to cook vegetarian for him but this is going to seriously limit what I can make. No cheese? eggs? milk? I told him he might be eating a lot of PB&J and cereal with almond milk. Since mayo isn't vegan (and none of us likes vegan "mayo") I tried this vegan potato salad recipe from Serious Eats. It was pretty straight-forward and everyone agreed that it was really yummy, but not quite as good as a standard mayo-based potato salad. (Part of what worked so well was that I undercooked the potatoes and let them finish steaming as I peeled them, so they were just past crunchy and held together really well.)

The other new dish comes from one of my new favorite food bloggers, Jamie at Cooking in Red Sox. She recently made a decadent lemon sauce to go with seared scallops, which I had to try at home. Now I managed to end up with the wrong kind of scallops, lemons, and white wine, but the dish still tasted fantastic! Even the kids went for seconds. (Obviously the DH didn't eat this, but he did like the lemon sauce on the broccoli.)

New recipe count: 25

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things to bring on a picnic

To be honest, we're not a picnicking family. Younger Son and I both have horrible reactions to bug bites and DH insists that everyone wash their hands just before eating. Older Son hates the heat and doesn't like most traditional picnic foods... and there you have it. We'd all rather stay inside and eat at the table in the air-conditioning.

But on the rare occasions that we go picnicking, this is what we bring:

1) Bug spray
2) Hand wipes
3) Citronella candles
4) Lots of blankets and beach towels for sitting on
5) Brownies
6) Lemonade and ginger ale (my favorite "mixed drink" ever!)
7) Hummus and veggies
8) Potato chips
9) My knitting
10) A word game

Monday, May 20, 2013

A bad soup and a good quick bread

Some more updates from last week:

The DH and I love cold soups, and I keep looking for the perfect vichyssoise, so I tried a new version and, alas, it was terrible. All the ingredients seemed out of proportion: the soup is rather too sweet for my liking and tastes only of leeks, and even after I doubled all the liquids it still seems far too thick. I will not be keeping this one.

On a brighter note, I dug up an old recipe for Pear Bread by Smitten Kitchen and, no surprise, it was terrific. I took it too work and convinced a wide array of people to try it - unanimous praise for its flavor and texture. Definitely a keeper!

New recipe count: 23

Finished Mittens: NHM #5, slightly bigger

Another finished pair of mittens! These are destined for GB, who's heading off to college in the fall. She requested blue and white, a "classic snowflake or star design." And it doesn't get more classic than the mittens in Selbuvotter... am I right?

Details: Cascade 220 superwash
Knit on a pair of size 3 wooden needles, 16"circular
Pattern based on NHM #5 (Rav link) but rewritten to achieve a slightly bigger mitten (all the stars are 5x5 instead of 4x4 as originally written)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Catching up on more new recipes

I've been doing more cooking as we approach the end of the school year. Last weekend, I bought two flats of strawberries and tried making jam. That didn't turn out so well and now we have a lot of third-rate strawberry jam taking up space in our freezer.

Then on Tuesday inflicted some new ideas on my in-laws (they're very patient and encouraging of my cooking efforts). And finally, last night, I didn't want to tackle my pile of grading so I dove into some cooking projects instead.

The first jam recipe I used was the one on the back of the box of pectin. Yikes! Far too much sugar and far too little strawberry, plus the sugar never fully dissolved so now I have four jars of crunchy pink spread that kind of tastes like strawberries.

The second jam recipe I used tastes good, but despite cooking it for longer than required the pectin from the green apple never fully took hold, so it's much more like overcooked strawberry spread than actual jam.

Oh - and I also figured out that my candy thermometer is set about 8 degrees too low. Dang it! This is why I overcook things: the thermometer never thinks that I've quite reached the target temperature.

Blue Apocalypse is one of my new faves in food blogging. Her recipes are pretty open-ended so it takes some independence on my part to get through them, but the results have been A+ thus far. I've previously blogged about her fabulous Prawn-Stuffed Mushrooms, which I modified this time with a large handful of cilantro ground up with the shrimp. They were oh-so-yummy and next time I might serve them without the sauce, because the one I snitched from the pan (pre-sauce) was terrific on its own. I also tried her Fried Spaghetti on Tuesday and despite a little confusion about what a "paprika" is when it isn't a spice, I think it came out really well. I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge so I served that alongside everything else.

As we head into summer I've been collecting salad recipes, and so I made this Sweet Potato Salad to accompany the two dishes from Blue Apocalypse. I couldn't find my walnuts so I had to sub pine nuts, but the salad was still delicious and different. Planning to make it again this weekend, this time with the walnuts.

I think I'll wait to report on my efforts from last night after everyone eats them for lunch.

New recipe count: 21

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WIP... woops... Thursday?

Totally missed WIP Wednesday, and I even made a point of getting a decent shot of my mittens-in-progress so I'd have something to talk about!

Pattern: DROPS 110-39
Yarn: Cascade 220 superwash
Needles: size 3 wooden tip 16" circulars (2)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite TV Moms

This is a tough one for me. My taste in TV shows tends to run toward shows where mothers largely are nonexistent (Numb3rs) or pretty much duds (Angel). However, I'm always happy to try...

1) Sharon Agathon on the revamped "Battlestar Galactica"
2) Bones on "Bones" - and also her BFF, Angela
3) Grissom's mom on "CSI"
3) Callie got to adopt her two favorite kids just as "CSI - Miama" ended... does that count?
4) Snow White on "Once Upon a Time"
5) and also Emma on "Once Upon a Time"
6) Montana on "CSI - NY"
7) Doris McGarrett on "Hawaii 5-0"

Dang, I'm lame. Can't think of any more, and I have to leave for work in a few minutes.

Help me out?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Like I said, I've been knitting LOTS of worsted-weight snowflake mittens in the past couple of months. Here's a summary picture of all the mittens I've done thus far:

Details, Left to Right:
Red: NHM #2, modified to 60 stitches
Navy blue: NHM #5, unmodified
Green: NHM #2, modified to 54 stitches
Medium blue: NHM #12, modified to 54 stitches
Blue and pink: DROPS 110-39
Light blue on bottom: NHM #12, modified to 54 stitches

All knit on #3 needles with Cascade 220 Superwash.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A thumb! another mitten! Boston teams have a tough night!

Another hasty post: After the Kentucky Derby (Orb won, nobody made history) I was watching the Bruins game tonight (ouch! a 2-4 loss to the Maple Leafs) and then I was watching the Red Sox (a 1-5 drubbing by the Texas Rangers) and I managed to finish up G's first mitten (sans thumb) and then to put a thumb onto the first of Sarah's mittens.

Pictured below is the first of G's mittens; it's NHM #5 sized up for a woman's hand.

Pictured above is the thumb of Sarah's mitten, which astute readers will recall as a variation of NHM #12. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things I'm looking forward to in the month of May

Yikes! Totally forgot to post yesterday.  Super-quick post now, just before midnight...

1) AP exams (I'm a high school teacher)
2) Graduation
3) My college reunion
4) Really putting my garden together
5) Hanging out in the backyard
6) Long walks with the dog
7) Mother's Day (I hear I may be getting a grill!)
8) Grilling
9) Wearing shorts again
10) Sleeping under something less bulky than a down comforter